One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A shrub of eastern North America, Spiraea tomentosa (family Rosaceae), having woolly stems and tall spires of pink flowers and sometimes an invasive weed of pastures (also called steeplebush); any of several other plants of this genus, especially the similar S. douglasii of western North America.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Jacob Bigelow (1786–1879). Probably from hard + hack, the shrub probably being so named on account of the difficulty of clearing it.
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