One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A water starwort; a plant of the genus Callitriche. Also (in form Callitriche): the genus itself.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Philemon Holland (1552–1637), translator. From post-classical Latin callitriche (Colonna 1616; subsequently adopted in scientific Latin as a genus name (Linnaeus Species plantarum II. 969), specifically use of classical Latin callitriche, ablative of callithrix waterwort (Pliny) from ancient Greek καλλίθριξ beautiful-haired.
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