The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Gardening in the Ancient World

History of grafting

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39.The origin of the art of grafting has been very unsatisfactorily accounted for by Theophrastus, Pliny, and Lucretius. It appears more probable that it originated in the inosculation of the branches of two trees placed near together in a crowded thicket; and if these trees were fruit trees, and the inosculated branch continued to bear fruit of its own kind, after its original root had been separated from it, the idea of producing the same effect by art, would naturally arise. In whatever way it may have originated, it is certain that grafting was known and practised by gardeners at a very early period. Macrobius, a Roman author of the fifth century, according to the taste of his time, says, Saturn taught the art to the inhabitants of Latium. It does not appear, however, to have been known to the Persians, or to the Greeks, in the time of Homer or Hesiod; nor, according to Chardin, was it known to the Persians in his day. Grafting was not known in China till very lately; it was shown to a few gardeners by the missionaries, as it was to the natives of Peru and South America by the Spaniards. Some, however, infer from a passage in Manlius, and one in Democritus, that grafting may have been mentioned in some of Hesiod's writings which are lost.


[Editor's note: the above text was written in 1913. For more recent information on the history of grafting please see Cooper and Chapot (1977) Fruit production with special emphasis on fruit for processing. In: Citrus Science and Technology (eds.S. Nagi, P.E. Shur, and M.K. Valdhuis) Vol. 2, p.11]