Grafting fruit trees on non-fruit ones

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

In addition to herbs, some trees can act as weeds. In the southern Urals in Bashkortostan one of such weed trees is maple. It grows quickly, reproduces rapidly, and easily fills the land. So I have a question: is it possible to use a maple tree as a stock for fruit trees? Please, tell me which of the fruit trees are most similar to maple and can be successfully grafted on the root system of a maple tree? Are there some tables (directories) on mutual compatibility of trees in the sense of grafting?

It would be interesting to experiment with grafting southern trees (coffee, cocoa, citrus, olives) on the root system of the northern trees. Does this raise their hardiness to cold? Do they start to drop their leaves in winter? It would also be very interesting to derive sorts of southern trees adapted for the northern climate.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
jim mcnamara
Good question.

The usual reasons for grafting are things like:

Soil borne parasite resistance - European grape varieties are often grafted onto North American varieties root stock for that reason.

Providing local pollinators - Sour cherry is often grafted as one limb onto bing or queen anne stock to improve fruit set on the tree as a whole.

The answer to what you ask largely is no. You cannot really change the DNA in the top part of a tree by grafting onto another root system. You have to think more in terms of some kind of symbiotic relationship. What does the top part get out of the deal? What does the bottom part get? And what is your cost/benefit ratio?

Bashkortostan is 54N latitude way inside the continent. Brr. You have to consider frost hardiness of the species you graft onto the maple root stock (in the sense that what you graft onto the root stock will grow with proper warmth, frost free period and tolerance of the minimum temperature)

There are described hardiness zones for fruit trees. Please read this article to see what I mean. Russia has a published set.

Then find a fruit tree that tolerates the hardiness zone you are in (guessing #3). Apples are one of the more cold tolerant species, and in fact require long frost periods to flower. Grafting apple stock onto maple root stock will work, but I cannot see any advantage to doing that.

Plus, in the area you mention pine species are the climax species (the dominant species you find in the really old undisturbed forest). Maple is an early successional species. That has more to do with the reproductive "strategy" of maples rather than it's suitability for any purpose like being root stock for fruit trees.
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  • #3
Grafting apple stock onto maple root stock will work, but I cannot see any advantage to doing that.
Thank you for your reply. Growing proper apple root stocks for grafting from seeds is time consuming. On the other hand, I have many young maple trees flooding my garden, which I need to weed out every year. I supposed that it would be best to use them as root stocks for fruit trees, but I was not sure if it is possible.
  • #4
Slightly OT - I just learned something :smile:

There is a Polish saying "obiecywać gruszki na wierzbie" which - when translated directly - means "to promise somebody pears growing on the willow" (used in the meaning "promise impossible things"). I remember reading eons ago that it is not completely off, it can be possible to graft pears on a willow, but I wasn't sure where I have read about it so I didn't trust myself and decided to google and check facts before posting anything. Turns out no, it is not possible - but I believe I have learned where does the saying comes from. There is a tree called - "pear with willow shaped leaves" - so it is quite possible that's where the saying comes from, there really exist a tree that look like if there were pears growing on a willow :smile:
  • #5
What are the reasons of mutual incompatibility of trees for grafting? As I know trees have no immune system. Probably any tree is potentially compatible with any other, but there were no carefully conducted experiments of grafting them.
  • #6
An easy way t graft branches onto trees is to use a tapered drill to drill into the trunk of the tree and use a pencil sharpener to put a tapered point on the branch to be grafted.

A tool name 'The Plugger', available fro Lee Valley Tools, and a common pencil sharpener are used for that.

The tool:,42706,40719

Using this method:

When grafting, the two tree species should be closely related. I have no idea if maple and apple will be a successful mixture.

However, apple seeds are easy to get growing. Once you have some root stock, you can graft scions from a favourite tree onto the root stock.

This more skillful type of grafting might also interest you: