Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.


  • Work on this object ended.


  • Work on this object began.



  • You found it!

Tree of 40 Fruit, 2008-ongoing

It is dated 2008-ongoing. Its medium is bare root tree, rendering, drawing, tree of 40 fruit. It is a part of the department.

Sam Van Aken uses centuries-old grafting techniques to combine multiple fruit varietals in a single tree. Grafting is the fusion of plant parts. He puts delicate stone fruits such as cherries and apricots in the center of the tree, surrounded by vigorous fruit such as plums and peaches, which blossom in a gradient of crimson, pink, and white. A hand-drawn sketch maps a tree’s grafts and is color coded to the blossom seasons.
The tree in the Cooper Hewitt garden arrived in April, and Van Aken will continue to add five grafts biannually through 2020. Metal tags on the tree branches indicate the varietals, which are each fruits originating or historically grown in New York. Van Aken has a nursery of these trees in upstate New York, preserving heirloom and rare fruit varietals. The project collapses an orchard of fruit trees into a single tree.

It is credited Courtesy of Sam Van Aken and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318798877/ |title=Tree of 40 Fruit, 2008-ongoing |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 December 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>