‘Martian’ flower basks in the Oscar glow

Image: Solanum watneyi
The bush tomato called Solanum watneyi has purple flowers. (Chris Martine / Bucknell / CC-BY 4.0)

Timing is everything, even when it comes to naming plant species. Bucknell University botanist Chris Martine found that out last fall, when he announced that a newly identified species of Australian bush tomato would be named after Mark Watney, the central character in a little movie called “The Martian.”

The announcement about Solanum watneyi made a splash, in part because it came just as the hype over the movie was reaching a crescendo.

Now there’s a second splash: The description of the plant is being published in the journal PhytoKeys – just as “The Martian” and Matt Damon, the actor who played Mark Watney, are basking in the glow of the Academy Awards spotlight.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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