One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of several medicinal herbs of the genus Aristolochia, formerly used to facilitate childbirth (also called birthwort); especially A. longa and A. rotunda. In later use also: bistort, Perscaria bistort, formerly believed to promote conception.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Gower (d. 1408), poet. Partly from post-classical Latin astrologia, and partly an alteration of Aristolochia.
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