One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounSouth-Western, United States Regional
An evergreen barberry, Mahonia trifoliata (family Berberidaceae), of the south-western United States and Mexico, having greyish, sharply pointed trifoliate leaves, clusters of yellow flowers, and bright red edible berries; the berry itself, which is sharp-tasting and used especially for making preserves. Also: any of several similar plants of the genera Mahonia or Berberis (rare).
Late 19th century. From American Spanish (Mexico and southern U. S.) agarita, algarita, algerita, variants of Spanish agrito barberry ( Berberis vulgaris) (1857 or earlier; compare Mexican Spanish agritos (plural noun) sorrel), probably from agrio sour + -ito. In some forms directly from Spanish agrito.
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