One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
†(a) alder buckthorn, Frangula alnus (family Rhamnaceae) (obsolete); (b) any of several North American shrubs of the genus Viburnum (family Adoxaceae), especially V. dentatum, having stiff, straight stems formerly used by North American Indians to make arrows; (c) any of various other North American shrubs, especially of the genus Euonymus, which typically grow in dense thickets and have tough, straight stems; also called arrowweed, burning bush, wahoo.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Henry Lyte (1529–1607), botanist and antiquary. From arrow + wood, originally after Middle French bois aux fleches, itself after Middle Dutch pijlhout alder buckthorn.
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