History of Luther Burbank


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Born in Lancaster, Massachusetts

Luther Burbank, was born on March 7, 1849 in Lancaster,Massachusetts. Burbank was the thirteenth of fifteen children in hisfamily. He was educated at the Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts, wherehe received the equivalent of a high school education.

Plant Research

Burbank held the belief that inheritance was determined by acquiredcharacteristics, which support Lamarch's theory of genetic variation.The works of Gregor Mendel were unknown to Burbank in his early career.Burbank's work focused on hybridization and grafting of plant tissuesfrom one plant to another. Burbank's research focused on making multiplecrosses between native plants and introduced new strains of existingplants. Later in his career, Burbank lectured on evolution at StanfordUniversity.

The Burbank Potato

He began breeding plants and conducting genetics research in 1870. In1871 he produced the Burbank potato which was a blight resistantspecies used in Ireland to combat the potato epidemic which affectedthat nation's potato crops and resulted in the emigration of half ofthat nation's people. With the money he gained by selling his rights tothe potato, he moved to Santa Rosa, California.

New Varieties of Plants

During his years in Santa Rosa, Burbank developed more than sixtyvarieties of plums and ten new commercial varieties of berries. He alsodeveloped new species of pineapples, walnuts, and almonds. While truckcrops were Burbank's primary interest, he also worked at developing newflowering plants. Burbank is given credit for developing the Fire poppy,Ostrichplume clematis, Shasta daisy, Burbank rose, new varieties oflilies and ornamental shrubs. Luther Burbank's discoveries of newvarieties of plants were based on careful and time consumingexperiments. His development of the white blackberry required 65,000unsuccessful crosses before he obtained the desired result. Burbank diedin 1926 at the age of 77.

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

Luther Burbank's Experiment Farm

Luther Burbank Virtual Museum


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