Burbank's Latest Creation, Capital City Nursery catalog, 1906
1906 Capitol City Nursery catalog

1906 Capitol City Nursery catalog



From The New Agricultural-Horticultural Opuntias, 1907

From The New Agricultural-Horticultural Opuntias, 1907
 

The Gentle Reminder by the Roadside, from The New Agricultural-Horticultural Opuntias, Luther Burbank, Santa Rosa, California , 1907

As a result of his plant breeding achievements and his mysterious charisma, Luther Burbank (1849-1926) became an early 20th century celebrity. In an active career that spanned over five decades, he bred over 200 varieties of fruit, many vegetables, nuts and grains and hundreds of ornamental flowers. The most notable of these have been the Burbank potato, Santa Rosa plum, a thornless blackberry, plumcots (a plum/apricot cross), the Shasta daisy and a spineless cactus to provide forage for livestock in desert regions.

It was Burbank's misfortune that he was compelled to run a seed and nursery business to support the experimental work that was his passion. He favored intuition over rules; in his plant breeding he used methods he and he alone had evolved and could apply. Scientific record-keeping on the millions of plants he worked with did not interest him and the resulting lack of documentation provided a basis for criticism from the scientific community.