Marketed as all-purpose potatoes, they are the parent of Russet Burbank potatoes.
Burbank Potatoes were developed by Luther Burbank between 1872 and 1875 in Massachusetts, from a cross between Early Rose potatoes and another unknown parent.
Though potato plants flower, we rarely think of them having flowers that produce seeds. Many don’t go on to produce seed pods, even if they’re not yanked out of the ground for harvest, and Early Rose is one of those that don’t usually.
Burbank noticed in 1872 that one of his Early Rose plants was in the process of producing a seed pod, and decided to keep an eye on it, but then the pod just dropped off and disappeared. He wrote, “so day after day I returned and took up the search again and at last, this patient search was rewarded. The missing seed ball was found.” He counted 23 seeds in his seed pod.
He planted the seeds in the spring of 1873. They all grew, but 1 of the 23 resulting plants had the most superior yield and size. He planted seed potatoes from that 1 in 1874, and knew he was onto a winner.
He sold the rights to the potato to a J.H. Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts for $150 (Burbank had asked for $500.) In those days, you couldn’t patent exclusive rights to a new plant variety.
Gregory named the potato “Burbank Seedling”, later renamed to just “Burbank”, and allowed Burbank to keep ten of the potatoes.
Luther Burbank used the money to move to Santa Rosa, California.
From the ten he took with him, he introduced Burbank potatoes to the West Coast.