One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of several herbaceous plants now usually placed in the genus Inula or Dittrichia (family Asteraceae (Compositae)), especially ploughman's spikenard, Inula conyzae, formerly used, mainly in dried form, to repel insects. In later use: any plant of or formerly included in the genus Conyza (family Asteraceae (Compositae)), comprising strong-smelling herbaceous or shrubby plants native to warm and temperate habitats worldwide, some of which are considered noxious weeds of cultivated land; (also, in form Conyza) the genus itself.
Old English; earliest use found in Pseudo-Apuleius' Herbarium. From classical Latin conyza strong-smelling composite plant, applied to Inula viscosa and Inula graveolens (Pliny) from ancient Greek κονύζα, of unknown origin; the ending is seen in other plant names, e.g. ancient Greek μώλυζα garlic (also Byzantine Greek μάνυζα garlic), Hellenistic Greek ὄρυζα.
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