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Cross pollination

The process of fertilising one plant with the pollen from another. If this is to occur naturally, this involves external pollen-carrying agents, such as the wind, birds or insects. Man has used this method to develop new plant strains over the years. One of the most famous practitioners was Luther Burbank (known as "the plant wizard") who bred new plants at his nursery Lunenberg, Massachusetts during the latter half of the 19th century. His successes included a strain of potato, white blackberries (plus another with no prickles on its stems), stone-less cherries and new varieties of peaches and tomatoes.

All in all he "created" sixty six new kinds of fruit that grow on trees, twelve new fruits that grow on bushes, nine new vegetables, seven new tree nuts and a new type of groundnut (peanut).

Only a small percentage of experiments like these are successful, at one stage Burbank had grown half a million strawberry plants to produce one "prize" plant. Nurserymen like Burbank merely sped-up what might have happened in nature by accident - the process shouldn"t be confused with the unnatural process of Genetic Modification, whereby plants that might never meet in nature (such as a fish and a tomato) have the others genes introduced. See "Citrus Fruit"; "Genetically modified food" & "Root grafting".

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