Yes, this story really is about a tree that is able to produce 40 different types/varieties of fruit.
On learning that the orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was to be shut down due to lack of funding, an art professor who had grown up on a farm decided to buy it and combine his plant know how with art to produce a tree with 40 types of fruit trees grafted onto it.
So what is a graft? Taking a cutting a plant and attaching it to another plant that is rooted is the simplest explanation. The cutting or scion will then grow using the nutrients from the plant it is attached to (the rootstock). Although the rootstock can have an effect on the scion’s internal clock and hardiness, it does not impact the flavour of the fruit which will remain true to type.
The talented professor took many small cuttings from 40 different types of fruit, including: plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries and almonds. So how is this possible? They are all from the same family, Prunus, meaning that in general they are graft compatible.
According to the story on the Science alert website, for much of the year the tree looks like any other tree but then in spring it comes to life with different coloured blossom on the grafted branches that lead onto the various fruits.