How to Make A Fruit-Salad Tree

By Ashley P. Taylor | September 12, 2012 10:44 am

spacing is important

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
  • jimbo

    This is a neat idea as long it is not like tomtato. When I was a kid I ordered that tomato/potato plant, what I got was a ring of potato for its eyes and some tomato seeds with instruction telling you to dig hole in the soil place the potato ring flat in the soil and put the tomato seeds in the middle cover and water and enjoy both. BIG Rip OFF. lol at the dumb Kid.

  • Mareka

    Home Depot in Florida sells them for about $300

  • John Lerch

    I saw a multi-stone fruit tree in one of the standard catalogs about 30 years ago. I also have a tree in my backyard that originally was supposed to have 5 kinds of pear on it, (there seem to be only 2 left). The rootstock is an Imperial pear–or as I like to call it a Crown of Thorns Bradford Pear. (BTW I think Bradford pears might actually be in a different genus.)
    Also I once grafted a leaf from an apple seedling I had planted onto an apple tree; a few years later the tree had a huge Macintosh among many smaller apples that the tree usually produced. But I think I didn’t know exactly where that branch was, and it may have gotten cut off.

  • Helen Mc

    I have two of these trees- a Pear that gives us four delicious varieties, and a Plum that was to have provided two kinds of plums and two kinds of apricots. However, the Plum has only come up with one kind so far, so if you buy such a tree keep your receipt for a while till you are sure it is performing as advertised. It’s a great concept for small back yards though – I love it!
    H McF

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