How do you get a tree that produces six or seven different fruits? Grafting, of course.
The process of getting a cutting of one plant to grow on the base of another, grafting is usually used in much more mundane contexts: it’s what lets farmers grow clones of an orange tree, say, with particularly succulent fruit, for decades after the original tree dies. The vast majority of the fruit we eat comes from such clones, since letting the tree mix its genes with another might produce a totally different fruit, much less marketable than the original.
But making a tree that fruits oranges, limes, and lemons all at the same time—now that’s a work of art. At Scientific American’s Brainwaves blog, Ferris Jabr explains how such fruit salad trees, also called fruit cocktail trees, work, and points readers in the direction of a purveyor of such wonders:
In Australia, James and Kerry West grow and sell four types of fruit salad trees, each of which bears several different kinds of fruit. Stone fruit salad trees grow peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and peachcots. Citrus salad trees offer a winter and summer orange, mandarins, lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangelos and pomelos. Multi-apple trees boast between two and four different kinds of apples and multi-nashi trees produce between two and four different kinds of Asian pears.
Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? If you’d like to try this at home—and you have a green thumb—check out this video for a demonstration. If grafting scares you off, you might still be able to see a fruit salad tree in person: At least one US botanical garden, the Florida Botanical Garden, has one in its collection.
Fruit salad photo via Shutterstock