One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A monotypic genus of the family Araceae comprising the water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, a pantropical aquatic plant which forms a floating rosette of leaves and has become a troublesome weed of waterways (also called tropical duckweed, river lettuce); (also pistia) a plant of this genus, water lettuce.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in New & Complete Dictionary Arts & Science. From scientific Latin Pistia (Linnaeus Genera Plantarum 275) from ancient Greek πιστός drinkable, liquid + scientific Latin -ia, perhaps so called on account of its deriving its nutrients from water.
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