10 MAY 1935, Page 25


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Sia,—In your issue of April 20th, Mr. H. E. Bates comments on the excellent work which has been done by the Russian agriculturists in respect to the Potato, but he falls into error when he says "yet for nearly 400 years the potato has been presumed to be a single species." This is very far from the fact. Baker, Wittmack, Berthault, and Rydeberg- to mention only a few—have described several species of the potato, and such distinct species as S. cominersonii, S. niaglits and S. demissum have been used for breeding experiments by potato-breeders and scientists in this country for at least forty years. What the Russians have done is to discover a large number of valuable tuber-bearing solanums closely related to the common domestic potato, many of which are endowed with valuable economic qualities which, it is hoped, may be transferred by modern breeding methods to the domestic stocks. On the other hand, the Russians have insisted, perhaps rather too dogmatically, that the common domestic potato of Europe is not only one species but is derived from one particular locality in South America.

In your issue of May 3rd, your contributor refers appreciatively to the work of the Potato Synonym Committee. As Chairman of that body I should like to thank him and to assure him that we do publish a complete list of Synonyms, the last edition of which was printed in 1938 and may be • obtained from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, Cambridge, price 2s. As regards the synonyms which are still current in several seedsmen's catalogues, these have also been published in the leading horticultural papers, in the Journal of the Ministry of Agriculture, and as a leaflet issued by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, a copy of which I have pleasure in enclosing and which you may care to reproduce.—I remain, yours faithfully, REDCLIFFE N. SALAMAN,

• Director of the Potato Virus Research Station, Cambridge University. School of Agriculture, Cambridge.