The Chit #03: Burbank Purple

A Barley Bred By “The Wizard of Horticulture”

Written by Christopher on 8/11/17

Luther Burbank was an American plant breeder, who developed more than 800 varieties of plants from 1871-1926. Among his collection were Burbank Barley and Burbank Purple, both of which we’re reviving in The Harlan Society.

image of burbank purple barley

Burbank Barley was reported to have an excellent, rich nutty flavor, and Burbank Purple is a beautiful purple/black seed. We’re excited to get our first tastes soon, and hope they match his fascinating story.

winnowing burbank purple barley

Burbank developed many types of plants, some commercially successful and some quite eccentric: the Russet Burbank Potato (from which a large percentage of McDonald’s french fries are made today), the plumcot, and the spineless cactus are a few examples.

photo of luther burbank

As one of the first major plant breeders, Burbank went on to impressive posthumous honors. Henry Ford moved Burbank’s childhood home and breeding office to Greenfield Village, Ford’s Michigan museum also featuring the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop and the Illinois courthouse Lincoln practiced law in. Burbank was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1986.