If it hadn’t been for introduction of grafting, we wouldn’t have domesticated apples or cherries and since these heterosexual fruit trees don’t pass along their genes to the next generation in any reliable way, we’d be eating often sour wild fruit.
Four millennia ago the Chinese developed the art of grafting– fusing tissues from one plant onto another- and today, most of the fruit trees we buy have been grafted.
Instead of waiting years for a productive fruit tree, backyard gardeners use grafting as a way to clone their favorite varieties and produce fruit within as little as a year. They simply select a clipping, or scion, from the fruit they wish to reproduce and graft it to an already mature rootstock.
“Marketplaces” for swapping desirable scions are called scion exchanges and take place during the winter when the trees are dormant (For more info on these exchanges see CA Rare Fruit Growers or the USDA site).
In this video, home gardener Jackie Kennedy talks about becoming motivated to recuperate some of the older (and even heirloom) varieties of fruit that have been lost in the marketplace.
“Part of it was going to the scion exchanges and learning about all of these different kinds of apple varieties. Hundreds of kinds of apples. But what happens is in commerce is they fall by the wayside… so that is part of my deal with grafting the peaches and I’ve grafted apples too. I hope long after I’ve gone the trees will be here and someone will take a bite and say wow this is really good, I’m going to take cuttings.”