Farm Walking Tour

Walking Tour of Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Experiment Farm


Farm Walking Tour

  • #1 Hybrid Black Walnut ( Juglans Nigra Hybrid) Hybrid Black Walnut A hybrid of native U.S. eastern black walnuts. Beginning in the 1880s, Burbank was among the first hybridizers of American walnuts. Presumably an experiment in progress ...
    Posted Jan 25, 2012, 2:31 PM by Erin Sheffield
  • #2 Catalpa or Indian Cigar Tree (Cataipa bignonioides) Catalpa or Indian Cigar TreeA hardy, deciduous native to the Southeastern U.S. In summer, bears large, trumpet-shaped white flowers with yellow and brown markings. Seedpods are long ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 12:59 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #3 Shasta Daisy Collection (Leucanthemum x superbum varieties) Shasta Daisy Collection First introduced in 1901; one of Burbank’s best-known introductions. He worked more than 14 years to hybridize this new species from four different kinds of ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:32 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #4 'Paradox' Walnut ( Juglans ‘Paradox’) 'Paradox' Walnut Introduced in 1893, Burbank developed this fast-growing lumber tree (it requires only 15 years to mature instead of the usual 50 to 60 years) by hybridizing the ...
    Posted Jan 11, 2012, 6:23 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #5 Hybrid Chinese Chestnut (Castanea Hybrid) Hybrid Chinese Chestnut Burbank developed hybrid chestnuts from European, Japanese and Chinese species to increase their resistance to chestnut blight. This tree produces abundant crops of tasty, burr-covered nuts ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:11 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #6 ‘White Seedless' Grape (Vitis ‘white seedless’) White Seedless GrapeSimilar to the Thompson Seedless grape. Developed by Burbank as a table variety. (Being a teetotaler he never developed any grapes for wine production.)
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:01 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #7 ‘Snowbank' White-fruited Blackberry (Rubus ‘Snowbank’) ‘Snowbank' White-fruited BlackberryIntroduced in 1916 as an improved form of his original White blackberry, Iceberg (1894). Developed as something of a joke, it nonetheless represents 21 remarkable achievement ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:02 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #8 ‘Royal’ Hybrid Black Walnut ( Juglans ‘Royal’) Royal Hybrid Black Walnut This Burbank introduction (1893) is a hybrid of California black walnut (J. Hindsii) and Eastern (J. nigra).The oldest tree on the Farm (1885) it was ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:12 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #9 Hybrid Mountain Ash or Jerusalem Pear (Sorbus domestica hybrids) Hybrid Mountain Ash or Jerusalem Pear European relatives of the apple. Trees are drought, disease and pest resistant. Burbank doubled the size of the fruit, which resembles tiny pears borne ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:15 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #10 'Van Deman' Quince (Cydonia oblonga 'Van Deman') 'Van Deman' Quince Burbank hybrid of a European variety (1893). Forms squat, furry, apple-shaped fruit; delicious when fully-ripened and cooked.Named for Dr. H. E. Van Deman of ...
    Posted Jan 14, 2012, 1:36 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #11 Loquat (Eriobatrya japonica) Loquat (Eriobatrya japonica)Evergreen subtropical fruit tree from Asia. Apricot-like has large seeds. This specimen was planted in 2003 in memory of Richard Keil who recalled Burbank hybrid loquats ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:05 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #12 Hybrid Spineless Cactus (Opuntia hybrid) Hybrid Spineless CactuBurbank introduced about 60 varieties of spineless cacti. Some were grown for their fruit (prickiy pears) and others for livestock fodder.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:04 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #13 Eastern Black Cherry (P. serotina) Eastern Black Cherry One of many cherry species grown by Burbank for use in developing new hybrid cherries. See also the Catalina Cherry (#43). Here are several views of the ...
    Posted Jun 29, 2012, 11:55 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #14 Multi-grafted English Walnut (Juglans regia) Multi-grafted English Walnut Mother tree used for grafting stems of hybrid seedlings so they'd grow and produce more quickly. The nuts and leaves on each branch are slightly ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:16 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #15 Burbank Hybrid Fruit Trees Burbank Hybrid Fruit Trees This contemporary orchard is composed of Burbank hybrid plums, pears, peaches, apples and plumcots (plum-apricot hybrids). Tags identify the different grafted branches.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:07 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #16 Seedling Avocado (Pearea: amenicrma selection) Seedling Avocado Grown from the seed of an original Burbank selection, a huge old tree in Santa Rosa. Well adapted to local climate, it bears small but tasty.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:11 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #17 ‘Himalaya’ Blackberry (Rubus ‘Himalaya’) 'Himalaya' Blackberry A second-generation seedling selected from seed imported by Burbank from India. Heavy, late-summer crops of large, tasty fruit. Notoriously vigorous. Several clones have naturalized from California ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:17 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #18 Hybrid Beach Plums (Prunus hybrids) Hybrid Beach Plums Developed by Burbank (1897) by crossing the eastern beach plum (P. maritima) with Japanese plums. Fruit is small, tasty and ripens very late; another attempt to develop ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:17 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #19 Grafted apples (Malus hybrids) Grafted Apples Includes Burbank’s Winterstein Apple (1901) a seedling of the ‘Gravenstein. It ripens two weeks later than the parent variety thus extending the season.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:09 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #20 Hybrid Chestnut (Castanea hybrid) Hybrid Chestnut Another multi-grafted mother tree (see #14) an which were grafted new hybrid seedlings.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:12 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #21 Burbank Hybrid Cherry (Prunus hybrid) Burbank Hybrid Cherry The variety Burbank (1903) was the first commercially viable cherry, developed specifically for shipping out of state. One tree was said to have more than 400 on ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:13 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #22 Apple Fence (Mains hybrids) Apple Fence A project of the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG). 27 antique apple varieties have been grafted to create an espaliered fence design. Behind is Burbank’s yellow-and ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:16 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #23 Multi-grafted Apple Tree (Malus hybrids) Multi-grafted Apple Tree Another CRFG project begun in 1999.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:17 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #24 Hybrid Chestnuts (Castanea hybrids) Hybrid Chestnuts Multi-grafted trees, probably a mixture of Chinese, American and Japanese species. Bear tasty nuts in the fall.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:18 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #25 Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki variety) Japanese Persimmon The better known Asian variety with large, dark, oval leaves, its fruit is edible even if slightly unripe. The wood is so hard it makes good golf clubs ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:12 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #26 American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) American Persimmon This is a native American tree with pale green, narrow leaves and smallish fruit, edible if 'over-ripe' (bletted). Like #25, clusters of bright orange fruit adorn the ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:16 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #27 Hybrid Nightshade (Solanum hybrid) Hybrid Nightshade A plant the same genus as the potato. No one knows what Burbank had in mind for this species. It has big thorns, blue blossoms, large green, fuzzy ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:20 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #28 Hybrid Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida hybrids) Hybrid Chinese Hawthorn Burbank hybrids that bear large clusters of edible, scarlet one-inch fruit in fall--part of experiments to develop hawthorns (related to apples, pears and plums) as ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:39 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #29 Mexican Hawthorn (Crataegus pubescens) Mexican Hawthorn Hardy, deciduous tree that bears large (1") yellow, tasty fruit in the fall. More tree-like than #28, both are quite thorny. These Hawthorns grow much taller than ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:38 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #30 Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum selections) Blueberries Possibly brought here by Burbank as selections plantings he knew during his childhood in Massachusetts. Bear small delicious Fruit in summer.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:19 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #31 Penstemun (Penstemun hybrid) and Pomegranate (Punica granatum variety) Penstemun and Pomegranate Modern varieties of plants grown by Burbank. Both are noted on the 1916 map in the cottage.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:20 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #32 Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) Golden Bamboo Burbank noted this plant on a 1914 bill of sale and on his 1916 map (see #31). Owing to its infrequency of bloom (every 60-80 years) it ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:22 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #33 Thornless Blackberries (Rubus ‘Sebastopol’?) Thornless Blackberries The first Thornless Blackberries were selected from more than 10,000 seedlings. Fruit is sweet and tasty, ripening late. Here, growing in a dry area, they are somewhat ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:43 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #34 Trifoliate Orange Hybrids (Poncirus trifoliata hybrids) Trifoliate Orange Hybrids Viciously thorny trees from China. Hardy to -15 F; used by Burbank in his (unsuccessful) experiments to develop cold-hardy citrus. Fuzzy orange fruits have about the ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:45 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #35 Hybrid Roses (Rosa hybrids) Hybrid Roses Mostly non-Burbank varieties planted by Stark Bros. Nursery during their occupation of the Farm (see 45 for Burbank roses).
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:23 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #36 Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronmarius) Mock Orange Hardy, old-fashioned deciduous shrub renowned for its large, sweetly scented white flowers.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:28 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #37 Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) Black Locust Fast-growing hybrids developed by Burbank for cattle fodder (leaves and seed pods); rot-resistant wood makes excellent fence posts. Beautiful white blossoms cluster in spring. Note European ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:48 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #38 Hybrid Redleaf Crabapple (Malus hybrid) Hybrid Redleaf Crabapple An unidentified Burbank hybrid with deep-rose flowers and small dark-red edible fruit, miniature apples usable without pickling. It's thought to be a Burbank variety ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:52 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #39 Oso Berry (Oemleria cerasiformis) Oso Berry Burbank selections (1918) of a hardy, deciduous native shrub. Bears bean-sized, edible, blue-black fruit. Burbank selections of a hardy, deciduous native shrub announced in 1918. Bears ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:54 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #40
    Posted Jan 11, 2012, 2:56 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #41 Hybrid Chinese Quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis hybrid) Hybrid Chinese Quince Growing in its original nursery row, this sturdy Burbank hybrid bears smooth, yellow fruit of about the size and shape of a mango; very drought and disease ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 7:58 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #42 Hybrid French Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris hybrids) Hybrid French LilacsFragrant Burbank hybrids that bear both single and double flowers of purple, lavender and white. One is bicolor. In his 1927 survey of the Farm's plantings ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:01 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #43 Hybrid Catalina Cherries (Prunus ilicifolia lyonii hybrids) Hybrid Catalina Cherries Bred from native trees that bear edible, cherry-sized fruit (mostly pit). Burbank used these in his experiments to develop new hybrid cherries.
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:03 AM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #44 Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnpocladus dioica) Kentucky Coffee Tree A native of eastern U.S., its were used as a substitute. Burbank grew it because of his interest in unusual edible species.
    Posted Jan 16, 2012, 1:25 PM by Wayne Wieseler
  • #45 Cottage Garden (located front and back) Cottage Garden Begun in 1995, this work-in-progress continues to be developed and maintained by farm volunteers. Burbank’s ‘Robusta’ Strawberry is the groundcover on the bank by the ...
    Posted Jan 12, 2012, 8:07 AM by Wayne Wieseler
Showing posts 1 - 45 of 45. View more »


#1 Hybrid Black Walnut ( Juglans Nigra Hybrid)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:58 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 25, 2012, 2:31 PM by Erin Sheffield ]

Hybrid Black Walnut

A hybrid of native U.S. eastern black walnuts. Beginning in the 1880s, Burbank was among the first hybridizers of American walnuts. Presumably an experiment in progress, there are several more nearby.


#1 Hybrid Black Walnut    Fruit near ripe in summer.

Fruit near ripe in summer.

#2 Catalpa or Indian Cigar Tree (Cataipa bignonioides)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:58 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 16, 2012, 12:59 PM ]



Catalpa or Indian Cigar Tree

A hardy, deciduous native to the Southeastern U.S. In summer, bears large, trumpet-shaped white flowers with yellow and brown markings. Seedpods are long, thin and green and resemble beans or cigars.



#3 Shasta Daisy Collection (Leucanthemum x superbum varieties)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:57 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 16, 2012, 1:32 PM ]


Shasta Daisy Collection

First introduced in 1901; one of Burbank’s best-known introductions. He worked more than 14 years to hybridize this new species from four different kinds of daisy from Europe and Japan.

It has been developed into more than 100 varieties and is the offcial flower of the City of Sebastopol.

Specific Daisy Varieties

A hybrid of native U.S. eastern black walnuts. Beginning in the 1880s, Burbank was among the first hybridizers of American walnuts. Presumably an experiment in progress, there are several more nearby.


#4 'Paradox' Walnut ( Juglans ‘Paradox’)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:57 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 11, 2012, 6:23 PM ]


'Paradox' Walnut

Introduced in 1893, Burbank developed this fast-growing lumber tree (it requires only 15 years to mature instead of the usual 50 to 60 years) by hybridizing the English walnut (J. regia) with the distantly related California black walnut (J. Hindsii), a difficult feat.

Site #4 'Paradox' walnut on right. Hybrid eastern black on left. The bark of Paradox is more plate-like almost half-way between J. regia and J. Hindsii. It has few nuts, a shy-bearer Burbank called it. Makes excellent specialty lumber for cabinetry etc. when aged properly. Zoom in to compare bark patterns.

'Paradox' walnut on right. Hybrid eastern black on left. The bark of Paradox is more plate-like almost half-way between J. regia and J. Hindsii. It has few nuts, a shy-bearer Burbank called it. Makes excellent specialty lumber for cabinetry etc. when aged properly. Zoom in to compare bark patterns.

#5 Hybrid Chinese Chestnut (Castanea Hybrid)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:56 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 12, 2012, 8:11 AM ]


Hybrid Chinese Chestnut

Burbank developed hybrid chestnuts from European, Japanese and Chinese species to increase their resistance to chestnut blight. This tree produces abundant crops of tasty, burr-covered nuts that are prized both by squirrels and humans.

All the items on the Farm were being developed for their resistance to disease as well as tasty and abundant fruit. Please see also #24.


#3 Chinese Chestnut Hybrid: This is a chestnut of the Chinese variety (Castanea mollissima). All the hybrids on the Farm were being developed for their resistance to blight. Chinese Chestnuts are resistant, but when they were introduced into America, they brought with them the fungus, Endothia parasitica which was fatal to our own native Chestnuts, especially Castanea dentata. The natives, however, produced the sweetest tasting nut, so attempts at hybridization were attempts to combine a blight-resistant tree with a sweet-tasting chestnut.

This is a chestnut of the Chinese variety (Castanea mollissima). All the hybrids on the Farm were being developed for their resistance to blight. Chinese Chestnuts are resistant, but when they were introduced into America, they brought with them the fungus, Endothia parasitica which was fatal to our own native Chestnuts, especially Castanea dentata.

The natives, however, produced the sweetest tasting nut, so attempts at hybridization were attempts to combine a blight-resistant tree with a sweet-tasting chestnut.

#6 ‘White Seedless' Grape (Vitis ‘white seedless’)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:56 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 16, 2012, 1:01 PM ]



White Seedless Grape

Similar to the Thompson Seedless grape. Developed by Burbank as a table variety. (Being a teetotaler he never developed any grapes for wine production.)



#7 ‘Snowbank' White-fruited Blackberry (Rubus ‘Snowbank’)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:56 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 16, 2012, 1:02 PM ]



‘Snowbank' White-fruited Blackberry

Introduced in 1916 as an improved form of his original White blackberry, Iceberg (1894). Developed as something of a joke, it nonetheless represents 21 remarkable achievement. The is translucent, milky-white and tastes like a normal blackberry. Nearby is the Mammoth blackberry, a once popular local variety that bears very large fruit.



#8 ‘Royal’ Hybrid Black Walnut ( Juglans ‘Royal’)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:55 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 12, 2012, 8:12 AM ]


Royal Hybrid Black Walnut

This Burbank introduction (1893) is a hybrid of California black walnut (J. Hindsii) and Eastern (J. nigra).

The oldest tree on the Farm (1885) it was planted as a witness tree (a property line marker) and still produces almost a ton of nuts annually.

#8 The Royal Walnut Witness Tree    This tree stands south of the barn and greenhouse, on the west side of Burbank Heights Apartments service buildings.    In its lifetime this huge tree has produced about a ton of nuts per year; Burbank sold them for rootstock.

This tree stands south of the barn and greenhouse, on the west side of Burbank Heights Apartments service buildings.

In its lifetime this huge tree has produced about a ton of nuts per year; Burbank sold them for rootstock.

#9 Hybrid Mountain Ash or Jerusalem Pear (Sorbus domestica hybrids)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:55 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 12, 2012, 8:15 AM ]


Hybrid Mountain Ash or Jerusalem Pear

European relatives of the apple. Trees are drought, disease and pest resistant. Burbank doubled the size of the fruit, which resembles tiny pears borne in large clusters, but died (1926) before developing its delectability.

Fruit must be ripened off the tree (bletted) to be edible; bright, beautiful colors in fall.

This site is slightly to the west behind the barn. Sorbus just to left of Docent in white hat. Note the trees planted in a

north-south row as were all the plantings on GRF. Ripe Sorbus in Fall below.

Sorbus is beautifully colored in autumn.Note the fruit about the size of small plums hanging in dense clusters.

#10 'Van Deman' Quince (Cydonia oblonga 'Van Deman')

posted Jan 11, 2012, 4:54 PM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Jan 14, 2012, 1:36 PM ]


'Van Deman' Quince

Burbank hybrid of a European variety (1893). Forms squat, furry, apple-shaped fruit; delicious when fully-ripened and cooked.

Named for Dr. H. E. Van Deman of the USDA. Nearby is Burbank's ‘Pineapple' Quince (1899).


This is one of two quinces still on the market, the other being
the 'Pineapple' Quince. Both are Burbank hybrids.

The 'Van Deman' is edible after it has become quite ripe and only if cooked.
Dr. Van Deman, a friend of Burbank, was a botanist with the U.S.D.A.

Closeup of nearly ripe Quince.

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