One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A South African rush, Prionium serratum (family Juncaceae), with a woody stem and a large panicle arising from a terminal tuft of long, fibrous, serrated leaves, common in swamps and on riverbanks and sometimes blocking watercourses with its dense growth.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in Georg Forster (1754–1794), traveller and naturalist. From South African Dutch palmiet from Dutch palmiet palm heart, either from Spanish palmito or from Portuguese palmito.
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