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  • Author or Editor: David Karp x
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The 113 named varieties of plums introduced by Luther Burbank (1849–1926) were by far the most numerous and arguably the most significant of his horticultural accomplishments. He began by importing 12 seedlings from Japan in 1885, including ‘Abundance’ and ‘Satsuma’ (Prunus salicina). The cultivars he released in the late 19th and early 20th centuries played a crucial role in developing commercial cultivation of Asian-type plums in California, the United States, and much of the world; they also served as founding clones for later breeders. His crowning achievement was ‘Santa Rosa’ (introduced 1906), which in 1945, ‘Santa Rosa’ accounted for 36% of the California plum harvest. Many of Burbank’s other cultivars of primarily P. salicina ancestry were extensively cultivated in California in the early and middle 1900s, including ‘Beauty’ (introduced 1911), ‘Burbank’ (1888), ‘Duarte’ (1911), ‘Eldorado’ (1904), ‘Formosa’ (1907), and ‘Wickson’ (1895). His most important introductions of European plum (P. domestica) were ‘Improved French’ prune (1898), ‘Sugar’ prune (1899) and ‘Standard’ prune (1911). Some of Burbank’s more obscure introductions never received general distribution and have disappeared; others such as ‘Santa Rosa’, ‘Shiro’ (1899), and ‘Elephant Heart’ (released posthumously in 1929) still are commonly cultivated today in home gardens and for sale at local markets.

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