One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A widely distributed herbaceous plant with purplish-brown two-lobed flowers. It was formerly considered to be effective in the treatment of scrofula.
Genus Scrophularia, family Scrophulariaceae (the figwort family): several species. Plants of this family have distinctive two-lobed flowers and include the snapdragons, toadflaxes, foxgloves, mulleins, monkey flowers, and speedwells
- ‘Of the few wildflowers, figwort and everlasting appear to be the most common.’
- ‘Among the vegetation in the northern sector of the marsh lie tall herbs including meadow-sweet, wild angelica and figwort, while strands of yellow iris, greater tussock sedge and alder carr can also be seen.’
- ‘In the course of our short walk, Barry reckons he's counted no fewer than 16 species of the ‘prettier’ wildflowers, including cranesbill, herb robert, various clovers, ribwort plantain, figwort and dog rose.’
- ‘Among the wildflowers are a red columbine, aster, figwort, wild sarsaparilla, fleabane, and avens.’
- ‘In seeking to solve this new problem, we note first that the form crowdy-kit itself not only means ‘small fiddle,’ but also refers to a plant, not any kind of orchid, but Scrophularia aquatica, the water figwort.’
Mid 16th century: from obsolete fig ‘piles’ + wort. The word originally denoted the pilewort or lesser celandine, which was used as a treatment for piles; the current sense dates from the late 16th century.
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