One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A herbaceous plant or shrub with milky latex and very small, typically greenish, flowers. Many kinds are cultivated as ornamentals and some are of commercial importance.
Genus Euphorbia, family Euphorbiaceae: numerous species
- ‘‘Wortflower’ and ‘wortgrass’ were local names for buttercup and petty spurge, plants that were believed to cure warts.’
- ‘Also known as milkweed and spurge, Euphorbia belongs to an incredibly varied genus that contains over 2,000 species including the Christmas favourite, poinsettia.’
- ‘The plant is native to C. or S. America, where it has been in use since prehistoric times, and is the only member of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, which provides food.’
- ‘Leafy spurge, for example, is not a problematic weed in its Eurasian homeland.’
- ‘Mrs. Robb's spurge is a delightful evergreen perennial that will flourish in deep dry shade.’
Late Middle English: shortening of Old French espurge, from espurgier, from Latin expurgare ‘cleanse’ (because of the purgative properties of the milky latex).
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