One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In early theories of plant structure, especially those of C. Gaudichaud-Beaupré (1789–1854): each of three units into which a leaf, or a phyton, was regarded as divisible.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in John Balfour (1808–1884), botanist. Irregularly from ancient Greek μερίς part + thallus, after French mérithalle merithal.
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