One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A plant of the tropical genus Basella (family Basellaceae), which comprises climbing plants with smooth fleshy leaves; especially the Malabar spinach, B. alba, widely cultivated in the tropics and used as a vegetable in Indian and Chinese cooking. Also (in form Basella): the genus itself.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Philip Miller (1691–1771), horticulturist and writer. From post-classical Latin basella (H. van Rhede tot Draakestein et al. Horti Malabarici VII. 45), perhaps from a Dravidian language of the Malabar region, with remodelling of the second element after classical Latin -ella.
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