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Grafting known fruit varieties onto wild root stock.
Greetings all. I'm a long time lurker first time poster. Sorry if this post is a repeat thread. I have spent some time searching for this topic on the forums and have found nothing but indirect references within other posts. I'm not 100% certain this is even posted in the correct area.

I have a good problem. On a 130 acre property I have recently come into control of there are a huge number of native fruiting trees. The property is in central Missouri, zone 6. I have been doing a bit of online research on grafting and have come across several very exciting testimonials about grafting onto wild root stock that I have available. I'm curious if anyone has experience in this area. Below are links to some articles I have found, and a species list of my current wild goodies. Helen Atthowe mentioned grafting to wild root stock (in passing) in one of Paul's early pod casts, though I don't recall the number.



There is another great article about grafting persimmons that I cannot find off hand.

The species I am particularly curious about are-

Persimmon (Diospyros Virginia).

I have read you can graft Asian varieties (Diospyros) to North Americans. I have also read you can graft better fruiting natives to poor/non-fruiting natives. Persimmons are monoecious but apparently take well to sex changes?

American Plum (Prunus americana)/Black Cherry (Prunus Virginia)

I have about a dozen mature American plums that pumped out gallons of tiny plums last year during the worst drought in 50 years, but I also have dozens that are not bearing much fruit at all. Since American plums are naturally semi-dwarf (I rarely see them above 15') I am curious about grafting other Prunus varieties to them. I have read all "stone fruits" are true Prunus species i.e. Peaches, Plums, Cherries, and Apricots. Black cherry grows to be about 75 feet tall around here but the idea of a 75 foot tall edible fruit tree makes me giggle, as impractical as harvesting might be. Black cherry fruits are tiny, bitter, and really hard find enough of to eat.

Mulberry (Morus Rubra).

I have seen various Asian varieties listed in catalogs, but I am more curious about grafting known fruiting stock (I have several gnarly old ones that fruit like mad) to some of the volunteers that are all over the place.

Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis).

I'm curious about grafting some known varieties that bear larger sized fruit.

Wild grape (Vitis spp).

I have been training these things along fence rows for years and just realized you can graft known varieties to them. I have a 100 footer I am definitely going to turn into a concord this spring. Any tips on grafting grapes? There are lots of youtube videos about this one.

Hickory trees (Carya spp.)

I have 5 or 6 native hickory species growing...but some have the lovely colloquial name of bitter nut (I can attest). I have planted several dozen baby shell bark trees (supposedly good native eaters) and have more on the way. But, since I have hundreds of seedlings and saplings, and big ones too, I'm curious about grafting some known varieties of thin shelled pecans (Carya Illinoinensis) to some otherwise inferior eating/shelling natives.

Honey Locusts (Gleditsia Triacanthos)

I have about 2 dozen 10-30 inch trees on the property that are naturally thornless. I am curious if anyone has ever grafted thornless locusts onto thorned root stock. I have these things in all the areas I am keen on food forest-ifying and have dealt with them enough to know how grumpy thorns in my head and tractor tires make me. I'm down with leguminous trees and actually have several hundred black locusts too. But I am particularly keen in de-thorning some existing rootstock, if only for a generation.

Multiflora rose (Rosa Multiflora)

I spent the better part of my childhood attacking these with a grubbing hoe at my parents instruction. I still do on occasion, but I have learned to let them be in certain places (quail and rabbits really seem to love the cover they provide). In the spirit of permaculture I am giddy to make the problem a solution by grafting flowering roses and large hipped varieties to this insanely hardy root stock. The idea of having fence rows full of huge flowering roses really makes me giggle.

Sorry for the lengthy question, I am very curious to hear about grafting success/failure in general and the use of native root stock in specific.



I'm interested in this as well. On my 7 acres of overgrown hay field there are many wild (planted via bird/deer poo) 3 year old apple trees and lots of black cherry, birch, sugar maple, oak...the list goes on. There are also about 12 cultivated, old apple trees that are in kinda rough shape. So I'd like to know if anyone has info on cutting from the old tree and grafting on the new tree. How many grafts could a small apple tree handle in one year? I thought about trying a few types of scion wood for each "wild" tree so as not to waste too much time trying and failing with different combos. I have a lot of young trees to work with (probably a hundred) so while I can handle some loss, I'd gladly take as much advice as I can get.

I have a friend who's grafted stone fruit to the American plum. The problem was the amount the plum suckered after that. He did it to older trees. I'm wondering if I do it on seedlings. I'll try this spring, probably almond and peach.

Almonds are a great idea. I never knew they were Prunus family until now.
The proprietor at Burnt Ridge Nursery as well as the Bullock Bros. report grafting apple onto our native crabapple, Malus fusca, which is tolerant of flooding. Grafting is generally a pain on plants that sucker easily (elderberry)... that's why it is nice to grow hazel on their own roots by layering.
I played with this very idea quite extensively while I was homesteading for 10+ years in central Georgia......here is what I found:
Persimmon sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. From what I've researched, there is a virus disease which is asymptomatic in the Oriental persimmon but is fatal when it translocates across the graft union to the American rootstock, killing the entire plant, sometimes as much as 3 years after grafting. I usually had a good bit less than 50% success. So just do plenty and plan for attrition, and be sure to try a variety of rootstocks....remember the ones near each other might be root suckers connected and thus genetically identical. And use different scions, too, because of the virus problem.....
Apple onto native crabapple (M. angustifolia) often showed a similar delayed incompatibility, the grafts succeeding for 2-3 years before dying off.
Also had no luck getting "Illinois Everbearing" mulberry to "take" on the wild mulberry. But I also had no luck getting it to root from cuttings, which many sources tell me is easy.
Medlar onto native hawthorn (never did adequately identify this...it was the scaly-flaking bark species rather than the shreddy-bark one) succeeded and produced fruit
I also planted seedlings from Bradford Pears growing around town and used these as rootstock for Asian Pears.
Peaches volunteer wherever, and peach pits come up readily. These seedlings can be used as rootstock for other peaches and also plums, almonds, etc. (though almonds don't usually do well in the SE.)
Wow, excellent responses. I appreciate the information.

I had never heard of Medlar until you mentioned it Alder. Now I find this article telling me of the varied abilities of Hawthorn root stock. I am fairly certain my hawthorns are ( Crataegus mollis). That was one of the trees that never crossed my mind as a potential grafter. Any ideas what the cold tolerance of Medlar is? Were you in the Mountains or the plains in Georgia?


I too have dug my fair share of the supposedly "sterile" Bradford Pears offspring from road sides. I have yet to put a graft on one though. I have Bartlet pear scion wood handy. I'm guessing your experience with Asian pears on Bradford roots should translate to all other pear varieties too?

I will look into the persimmon virus issues. I certainly have enough root stock to have an acceptable rate of failure. I have an extra 50 bare root seedlings coming in the spring from the state nursery. Excellent point about the genetic clones in the clumps of persimmon. I have some friends with a prolific fruiting American persimmon (Diospyros Virginia) that I am going to try grafting first. How good are the Asian persimmons, as far as taste and yield? They look nice at the store, but I've never tried one.

I'm curious about the viability of grafting Mulberries now. Have other folks had luck with this? I'm guessing commercial varieties are grafted, but it is possible they are simply cloned from cuttings. Thoughts?

Sadly I am lacking in wild apple of crab apple trees. I do have access to crab apple seeds that I am currently cold stratifying. Those will take a bit to get up and running. By then I hope to have made friends with local orchards for scion wood.

I was in the piedmont region of central GA, and previous to that on the Coastal Plain in SW GA. Medlar is quite hardy, in fact I was surprised that it would grow so far south. I think that some pears and quince can graft onto hawthorn too, and there are some hawthorns (such as the Mayhaw native in S. GA and a couple of Chinese species) that are valuable fruits in their own right. Not sure about European pears (such as Bartlett) on Bradford stock....I was only after Asians as we already had plenty of other pear trees.
Asian persimmons are a fantastic tree....hardy, late ripening, and very edible. Where they come from (China, Korea, Japan) they are as important as apples and citrus are to us, and there are bearing trees hundreds of years old. There are quite a few non astringent varieties that you can eat as soon as they turn fully orange, but still crispy, like an apple; and they will store for quite a while before slowly turning soft. Astringent ones need to turn soft before eating, like the wild ones, but they are much larger and have few or no seeds. The only issue with where you are might be their winter hardiness.....I think some varieties are rated to zone 6- 7 but some popular ones like it warmer. There are also a few Asian-American hybrids, which would be hardier.
Even though sources say mulberry can be rooted, most nursery trees I've seen are grafted, usually onto white mulberry....making it easy for the grafted tree to get overwhelmed in suckers without keeping after them.
Like Bradford pears, many ornamental crab apples germinate readily and volunteers should be easy to find.....
I have no experience with these but am planning to try it in about 2 years. This spring is going to be planting crabapples for a natural arch, see picture below, then once established grafting scions from a friends hardy apple tree to get fruit. Though have found references for this am looking for whether it can also be done with pin/choke cherries and edible cherry varieties. If anyone knows about this please advise.
Sorry, got kicked off the net while uploading the photo. Here it is.

tree Arch
Medlar on hawthorn works really well. Beside, hawthorn is a big grafting potential.
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more ... richsoil.com/wd-gardening.jsp

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