Many of us have memories of school lunches and the little cup of fruit cocktail that sometimes came with it. Little bits of assorted fruit, served in a light syrup with a cherry for color.
What if I told you that there is a fruit tree that can produce up to 5 different kinds of fruit. Would you think I was crazy? Well, there is such a tree and it is called a “Cocktail Citrus Tree”.
At first glance, a cocktail tree can look like any other citrus tree you may encounter.
But, if you look closely, you may find the following fruit, all on the same tree.
Warning – if you don’t want to read the scientific explanation, just skip down to the next picture :^)
Citrus trees, like most fruit trees consist of two parts. The bottom part is called the ‘rootstock’, which in the case of citrus, is a hardy citrus plant that produces a healthy root system, but does not necessarily produce great tasting fruit. Then a bud from a tree that produces delicious citrus fruit, but may have a weaker root system, is grafted onto the rootstock. Over time, both of these parts will grow together into one tree.
A cocktail tree is created using this method, but instead of grafting only one type of fruit onto the root stock, up to 5 different fruits are grafted. Most often, you will find cocktail trees with 3 types of fruit in the nursery.
A few months ago, my mother, (Pastor Farmer), asked me to look at one of their citrus trees at Double S Farms. Some of the fruit on their grapefruit tree (above) looked smaller and was clustered more thickly on the branches.
It turns out that this was a cocktail tree and they had both lemons and grapefruit on the same tree.
If you have a cocktail tree, it is important to manage it correctly with pruning. For example, grapefruit are more vigorous growers then oranges, so you need to prune the grapefruit portion of the tree to keep it from taking over the other types of citrus.
**There are other types of cocktail trees that have peach, plum, apricot and cherry grafted onto the same tree.
A cocktail tree is a great solution for those who have a small gardening area, but would like to have a nice variety of fruit. You can have it all in one tree.
And, you can also use the fruit to create your own homemade fruit cocktail.Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."