One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A genus of southern African plants of the family Iridaceae, comprising spring-flowering perennial plants which grow from corms and produce spikes of funnel-shaped yellow, purple, or scarlet flowers. Also (usually in form babiana): a plant of this genus.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Curtis's Botanical Magazine. From scientific Latin Babiana from South African Dutch babianer, in same sense; compare -a. The South African Dutch and Afrikaans names were given to the plants because their subterranean stems are eaten by baboons.
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