Jimi Hendrix may have died more than 45 years ago, but his botanical legacy will live forever. In a new study, a team of researchers, including San Diego State University plant biologist Michael Simpson, identified a new and rare species of succulent and dubbed it Dudleya hendrixii, or “Hendrix’s liveforever,” in honor of the guitar virtuoso.
The plant is found only on a tiny sliver of Baja California, Mexico, called the Colonet peninsula. One of the study’s coauthors, Mark Dodero—now a senior biologist at San Diego environmental consulting firm RECON Environmental—discovered it while he was a graduate student at SDSU. It’s a thin, stalky plant less than a foot tall with succulent leaves and brilliant pinkish white flowers. It dies in the summer and then re-sprouts again in the fall.
Dodero and co-author Stephen McCabe of the University of California, Santa Cruz, decided to name the plant after Hendrix, their musical icon. The story goes that Dodero was listening to Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” at the very moment he stumbled across the theretofore unnamed plant. The team of scientists reports their findings this month in the journal Madroño, published by the California Botanical Society.
Unfortunately, though it’s only just been identified and named, D. hendrixii is already in peril. Its habitat, only a couple of acres, is threatened by grazing, farming, off-road vehicle traffic and housing development in the region.
“It’s the Mexican equivalent of an endangered species, although they don’t use the same criteria we do in the United States,” Simpson explained.
A major shipping port is being considered on the coast of Punta Colonet, risking further human activity in this fragile environment. The study’s authors urge Mexican officials and conservation organizations to work quickly to protect this rare plant.