No, Willy Wonka did not expand his world of pure imagination to include both a chocolate factory and a magical orchard. The “fruit salad tree”—a single shrub that can grow up to seven different kinds of fruit from the same family on its branches—actually exists.
While the concept is totally mind blowing, these trees are developed through an age-old horticultural process called grafting that joins together tissues from two or more plants. Since grafting creates specialized hybrids, the variety of multi-fruit trees are as vast as the fruits they can yield: from one that can produce various apples (red! green! yellow!) for the cider and pie-obsessed, to another that can grow up to seven kinds of citrus, including oranges, lemons, and even pomelos at once. Since each type of fruit has its own harvest time, these trees produce a steady flow of produce once it’s been carefully pruned. You’ll never run out of ingredients for a killer smoothie ever again.
Imagine planting a few varieties in your backyard or each in a pot on your porch (these trees have no problem producing full-sized fruit in a crowded urban landscape)—your grocery list just got dramatically smaller now that a variety of fresh, tree-ripened fruit is at your fingertips.
It’s not all so effortless though: these trees require some TLC while they’re growing as well as seasonal upkeep, so if you’re thumb isn’t green or you’re not down for a commitment, stick to perusing your supermarket’s offerings. Alternately, for those who view gardening as their moment of zen, these trees seem like a golden ticket towards a more self-sustainable lifestyle.
A handful of producers around the world sell multi-grafted trees for home gardens, including Dave Wilson Nursery in Hickman, California and the Fruit Salad Tree Co. in New South Wales, Australia. Prices vary according to the tree type and number of grafts, so the more kinds of fruit it bears, the more costly it will be. But since they’re completely tailored to your taste, we can’t imagine how they wouldn’t be worth it.
What do you think of this fruit salad tree? Would you deal with the upkeep or would you rather depend on your local markets for fresh fruit? Tell us in the comments below.