Definition of esparto in US English:


(also esparto grass)


  • A coarse grass with tough narrow leaves, native to Spain and North Africa. It is used to make ropes, wickerwork, and high-quality paper.

    Stipa tenacissima, family Gramineae

    • ‘The pasture field was overgrown with an abundance of esparto grass, but the area where the carcass was found was clean and scorched.’
    • ‘The Canary Islands' production of tobacco and bananas is important, as is that of esparto grass on the eastern meseta for the manufacture of traditional footgear and other items.’
    • ‘Mostly desert, with only 2 percent of its territory arable, Libya's major exports were esparto grass and scrap iron from its World War II battlefields.’


Mid 19th century: from Spanish, via Latin from Greek sparton ‘rope’.