One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A plant of the genus Aethionema (family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)), which comprises mostly low-growing plants with showy racemes of pink, lilac, yellow, or white flowers, native to the Mediterranean but cultivated elsewhere as garden plants; also called stone cress. Also (in form Aethionema): the genus itself.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Robert Brown (1757–1831), writer on agriculture. From scientific Latin Aethionema from ancient Greek αἴθειν to light up, kindle + νῆμα thread, yarn.
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