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Bloom This Way: Lady Gaga Lends Name to Gender-Bending Fern

Lady Gaga and her fern

Lady Gaga is a plant now. Duke University biologists have named a new genus of ferns after the Born This Way pop singer, as you can see in the Duke video above (via the New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff). In all, 19 species of ferns found in Central and South America, Mexico, Arizona, and Texas now bear the Gaga name.

Study leader Kathleen Pryer said researchers wanted to name the genus after Gaga anyway, “because of her fervent defense of equality and invididual expression,” but “the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice.” The fern has a relatively flexible definition of gender, resembles Gaga’s 2010 Grammy Awards costume, and has a DNA sequence that spells out GAGA, according to the biologists.

The Gaga genus, or group of closely related species, includes two newly discovered species. Gaga germanotta, from Costa Rica, is named in tribute to Gaga’s family (her real name, of course, is Stefani Germanotta). Gaga monstraparva, from Mexico, has a name that literally means “monster-little,” as a tribute to Gaga’s fans, the little monsters.

Gaga isn’t the first famous person to have her name immortalized by scientists. Beyoncé has an Australian horse fly named in her honor by a scientist who described the bug (technical term) as “bootylicious” (even more technical term). President Barack Obama also can boast of a California lichen called aloplaca obamae. 

When not granting her name and likeness to plantlife, Gaga has been trading shots with South African provocatuers Die Antwoord. She’s also reportedly working on a jazz album with Tony Bennett. Her upcoming album ARTPOP, which she has said will be a “multimedia experience,” is scheduled for next year.