One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A genus of the family Lythraceae, comprising two small trees with hoary stems, lanceolate leaves, and white flowers, Pemphis acidula, of tropical coastal areas in Africa and southern Asia, and P. madagascariensis of the mountains of Madagascar. Also (usually in form pemphis): a tree of this genus, especially P. acidula.
Late 18th century. From scientific Latin Pemphis, genus name from Hellenistic Greek πεμϕίς ghost (attested in genitive plural πεμϕίδων); perhaps an error for πέμϕιξ, in the same source in this sense.
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