Dolly Parton has received an honor she was probably never expecting to get: Scientists have named a new species of lichen after the country icon.

Japewiella dollypartoniana is found mainly in the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia, but it is most abundant on the treeless mountain summits in the southern regions. The lichen was a previously known species, but it could not be formally named until it was found in fruit, which Jessica L. Allen and James C. Lendemer, Ph.D., discovered recently on Hangover Mountain in North Carolina's Unicoi Mountains.

Allen and Lendemer named the species for Parton to honor the singer's contributions to the region. Parton grew up near the Appalachian Mountains with 11 siblings, and since becoming a country singer, she has used her fame to try to increase the quality of life for the people of the area, many of whom are living in extreme poverty.

“Dolly Parton is an inspirational figure who has championed the Appalachians both in America and around the globe,” Allen says. “By naming an Appalachian lichen species found near her Tennessee hometown in her honor, we hope to pay tribute to her tireless work as an artist and philanthropist.”

None of Parton's work in the area would have been possible, however, without her drive to make something more for herself and be fearless in the face of challenges, which she says has been the key to her success in the music industry and beyond.

“The key to my success has always been that my desire to succeed has always been greater than my fear,” Parton says. “I’ve been scared to death about a lot of things, but then I think, ‘Okay, you gotta buckle up, girl. You’ve got yourself here, so get out there and just do it.’ And I just ask God to help me, and I follow that light.”

See the full scientific report on Japewiella dollypartoniana at CastaneaJournal.org.

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