NAMED AFTER JIMI HENDRIX, THE ROCKER GUITARIST
Jimi Hendrix is famous for his many songs, including “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” but now he’ll also be remembered for an entirely different reason: a botanist has named a newly discovered species of rare, flowery succulent, after him. The discovery was made by Mark Dodero, a graduate student at San Diego State University. The idea for the name took root after Dodero realized he was listening to Hendrix’s song “Voodoo Child” at the very moment he found the pinkish plant. Hendrix died in 1970 at the age of 27.
The plant, named Dudleya hendrixii, is found only in a sliver of Baja California, in an area called the Colonet Peninsula, known as Punta Colenet in Spanish. D.hendrixii is thin and stalky, and typically grows to be about 1 foot tall. The plant has succulent leaves and flowers that are hot pink and white. D hendrixii is a summer deciduous, meaning it dies in the summer and regrows in the fall.
Though a new addition to the science world, it already needs the help of scientist and conservationists. Because of its habitat, which is only a couple of miles, it is threatened by grazing, farmers, off-road traffic and housing. Punta Colonet may soon be home to a major shipping port, which would further imperil the area’s fragile environment.
D.hendrixii is hardly the only species name inspired by music. For instance, the damselfly Umma gumma is named for the 1969 Pink Floyd double album “Ummagumma,” which is British slang for sex. In addition, the tarantula Aphonopelma johnnycashi is named for the singer and songwriter Johnny Cash, because the spider’s dark coloring reminded researchers of Cash’s head-t0-toe black attire.
Science has identified some 2 million species of plants, animals and microbes on Earth, but scientists estimated there are millions more left to discover, and new species are constantly discovered and described.