Backyard Anomaly


My in-laws recently purchased a new home and along with it came quite an unusual specimen. This grafted tree is one-part oak and one-part pecan, joined just below the branches.

According to my friend Sarah Simmons, a Botanist at UT-Austin, grafting occurs when "a branch or bud of a desirable tree is taken and joined to the rootstock of another individual. Care is taken to assure that the cambium (or growing tissue) of the two are aligned so that actively dividing tissues come into contact and grow together. The cut tissues are protected until the graft takes."

"The process is more efficient than starting from seeds, it insures crop uniformity, and some crops are sterile (navel oranges) and must be artificially reproduced this way," Sarah says.

Perhaps the tree isn't as rare as I had thought, but it's still on my top-ten list of backyard anomalies. Bring on the wicked pecan/oak pie!

Mark Sanders, Apr 18 2005 9:48PM

Don't you mean pokan pie? Or oakan pie? Or pekan pie? (I can keep going for a while).

Seriously, I enjoyed a little botany on a Monday. I learned about plant grafting in detail in a book by one of my favorite authors, Michael Pollan. He floats the premise in The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World that just as we manipulate plants to our needs, plants manipulate us.

He describes how the mythical perception of Johnny Appleseed couldn't be true since they produce a tree with fruit that is impossibly sour. Grafting is the only way to reproduce the common varieties of apple. It seems Mr. Appleseed did do some planting but it was for the alcoholic cider that could be made cheaply and make the hardships of the frontier disappear.

Maybe that is why your in-laws have a mutant tree: forbidden fruit.

Ann W., Apr 18 2005 11:43PM

Or how about pecorn pie?

Sandie, Apr 19 2005 9:44AM

Acoran pie? Nice photo! Our trees in New York are just starting to bud thanks to the long cold winter.