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Meet the Endangered Plant Named after Rock Legend Jimi Hendrix

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The entire Hendrix’s liveforever species could be wiped out by a single tractor

Will an endangered flower named after musician Jimi Hendrix fade into the purple haze of memory?

Not if the researchers who just discovered it have anything to say about it. They hope that the announcement of this new but endangered species will mobilize efforts to protect and conserve the remote region of Baja, Mexico, in which it and other rare plants are found.

The researchers—who have dubbed the tiny new plant Hendrix’s liveforever or Dudleya hendrixii—say it is in particular need of conservation. “We estimated there were 5,000-10,000 plants on a few acres, perhaps 2-3 acres total,” says Stephen McCabe, a researcher with the Environmental Studies Department and Emeritus Director of Research at the Arboretum at the University of California Santa Cruz, one of the authors of a paper describing the new species in the journal Madroño. McCabe and his co-authors say the site, part of the “botanists’ paradise” known as Colonet Mesa, faces threats from farming and livestock grazing and could also face the risk of future development.

Dudleya species in general, McCabe points out, are hardy plants—they don’t “live forever” as their name would imply, although they can survive uprooted without water for a year or more—but the new species’ restricted range makes it particularly vulnerable. The researchers warn that the site could easily be damaged or even completely destroyed, like castles made of sand, by an off-road vehicle or tractor.

The tiny, two-inch flower itself doesn’t immediately bring Jimi Hendrix to mind, but it’s not all about appearances. It turns out that the researcher who first encountered the plant at Colonet Mesa, Mark Dodero of RECON Environmental, was listening to the song “Voodoo Child” when he made the discovery.


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