Born Mar 7 1849
- Died Apr 11 1926
Peach and Fruit
Peach and Fruit
Patent Number(s) Plant Patent No. 15
During a lifetime devoted to plant breeding, Luther Burbank developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants, including 113 varieties of plums and prunes, 50 varieties of berries, over 50 varieties of lilies, and a freestone-type peach.
Burbank’s hybrid plants included the Burbank potato. A later variant, developed by an Idaho man, was named the Burbank russet and is the most widely cultivated potato in the world. His over 800 varieties have been used around the world to increase the food supply.
Born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, Burbank was brought up on a farm and attended Lancaster Academy for high school. At age 22, he purchased a 17-acre tract near Lunenburg where he began a 55-year plant breeding career.
In 1871 he developed the Burbank potato. He sold the rights for the potato for $150, which he used to travel to Santo Rosa, California. In Santa Rosa, he established a nursery garden, greenhouse, and experimental farms that have become famous throughout the world.
He worked by effecting multiple crosses of foreign and native strains to obtain seedlings, which he grafted onto fully developed plants for rapid assessment of hybrid characteristics.
Burbank carried on his plant hybridization and selection on a huge scale. At any one time he maintained as many as 3,000 experiments involving millions of plants. In his work on plums, he tested about 30,000 new varieties. The Plant Patent Act of 1930 amended U.S. patent law to permit protection of new and distinct varieties of asexually reproduced plants, other than tuber-propagated plants. This legislation resulted from the growing awareness that plant breeders had no financial incentive to enter plant breeding because they could not exercise control over their discoveries. In supporting this legislation, Thomas A. Edison testified: ' This (bill) will, I feel sure, give us many Burbanks.' Plant Patent Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 41, 65, 66, 235, 266, 267, 269, 290, 291, and 1041 were issued to Burbank posthumously.