Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/205

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY



JANUARY, 1905.



SOME EXPERIMENTS OF LUTHER BURBANK.
By President DAVID STARR JORDAN,
LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY.

MR. LUTHER BURBANK, of Santa Rosa, California, is doubtless the most skilful experimenter in the field of the formation of new forms of plant life by the process of crossing and selection. He is the creator of many of our most useful plant forms: roots, nuts, fruits, grains and grasses, as well as of many of our most beautiful flowers. His methods are the practical application of the theories of Darwin and his followers, and to a degree wholly exceptional among plant breeders, Mr. Burbank has kept in touch with most modern work in the field of bionomics, and very much of his time and energy is devoted to experiments of scientific interest not likely of themselves to yield immediate practical results. In the nature of things, the demands of his work, and the necessity for the sale of new forms produced by him, have prevented the keeping of detailed records of his work, although steps have been taken toward the provision of explicit records in the future. For the rest, Mr. Burbank's success in practical achievement gives weight to his views on theoretical questions.

The present writer has recently at different times spent three days in Mr. Burbank's company at his gardens at Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, keeping note of things seen and of Mr. Burbank's views concerning them. In this paper, selections are made from these notes, the forms of plants referred to having been examined by the writer and the report of explanations having been verified by Mr. Burbank. All quotation marks refer to conversations with Mr. Burbank, the statement of which Mr. Burbank has verified or corrected. The accompanying illustrations are all from photographs by Mr. Burbank.