Since ancient times, people have cut and joined together plants of different varieties or species so they would grow as a single plant - a process known as grafting (Figures 1 and 2). References to grafting appear in the Bible, ancient Greek and ancient Chinese texts, indicating that grafting was practised in Europe, the Middle East and Asia by at least the 5(th) century BCE. It is unknown where or how grafting was first discovered, but it is likely that natural grafting, the process by which two plants touch and fuse limbs or roots in the absence of human interference (Figure 3), influenced people's thinking. Such natural grafts are generally uncommon, but are seen in certain species, including English ivy. Parasitic plants, such as mistletoe, that grow and feed on often unrelated species may have also contributed to the development of grafting as a technique, as people would have observed mistletoe growing on trees such as apples or poplars.
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