One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
Mid 19th century: from Spanish, via Latin from Greek sparton ‘rope’.
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