One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A carnivorous bog plant that has violet flowers borne above a rosette of yellowish-green greasy leaves that trap and digest small insects. It is native to both Eurasia and North America.
Genus Pinguicula, family Lentibulariaceae: several species, in particular the common butterwort (P. vulgaris)
- ‘Skylarks sang over the wetlands, carnivorous butterworts were in violet flower and cotton grass fluffed up the land.’
- ‘There are many more plants that will thrive in medium light, among them Irish moss, Tahitian bridal veil, heart-leaved philodendron, pitcher plant, and butterwort.’
- ‘Commonly called the butterworts, these plants are just about the most innocuous-looking carnivorous plants you'll ever see.’
- ‘The violet flowers of butterworts nod manically at the roadside, seeming too delicate for this windswept terrain.’
- ‘The insect-eating common butterwort, previously thought to be extinct in the region, has also been noted.’
Late 16th century: named from the plant's supposed ability to keep cows in milk, and so maintain the supply of butter.
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