Man Grows 250 Different Kinds Of Apples On One Tree: How Did Paul Barnett Get So Many Varieties On The Same Bush?

By Philip Ross on September 30, 2013 1:59 PM EDT

apple tree
Paul Barnett grows 250 kinds of apples on the same tree. (Photo: Reuters)

A man in the UK has created an apple tree with 250 different kinds of apples on its branches. The Daily Mail reports that Paul Barnett, a horticulturist, spent 24 years splicing together hundreds of different kinds of apples on to the same tree.

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The duly-named "family tree" has almost any variety of apple you can think of growing on its branches - Granny Smiths, Golden Delicious, Wadhurst Pippin, Brownlees Russet and a bunch of others you've probably never heard of (Wolf River? Ross Nonpareil?).

Barnett, who lives in Chidham, a town about 75 miles southwest of London near the English Channel coast, said he use to work at a nursery with 90 different types of apple trees in rows. He was reportedly inspired to try something similar, but in a much smaller space.

"I wanted to grow my own trees but I didn't have the space to plant that number so I started a 'family tree' where I can have all the different varieties in one space," Barnett told The Daily Mail.

The tree, which the 40-year-old horticulturalist planted in 1989, is now 20 feet tall. Its branches containing the various kinds of apples fan out from a single trunk, and are held up by pieces of wood. As seen in photos of the massive apple tree, little white tags placed by the apple bunches denote the variety of each juicy fruit.

"The tree has cooking, eating and cider apples on it but I normally only get a few of each variety of apple each year," he said. "It's great to see all the different colors and sized apples on the tree this time of year."

So how did Barnett do it? According to the horticulturalist, he adds varieties to the tree every year by either budding or grafting new varieties onto it. Budding involves cutting from another apple tree and embedding the bud into the bark of Barnett's "family tree." He also grafts new branches onto his tree by inserting sections from other apple trees.

To get new varieties, Barnett either buys them from the home of the National Fruit Collection, one of the largest collections of fruit trees and plants in the world located in Kent, England, or trades them with other apple growers.

Horticulture is the science and art of growing flowers, fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants for human use. It comes from the Latin word hortus, meaning "garden," and cultūra, meaning "cultivation." According to the University of Illinois, there are roughly 7,500 varieties of apple grown throughout the world. They originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Seas, and were favored by ancient Greeks and Romans.

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