One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An evergreen shrub or small tree, Ardisia escallonioides (family Myrsinaceae), bearing white flowers and shiny black berries, and occurring in tropical and subtropical America (also "†marlberry-cherry"). Later also: a related shrub, A. japonica, native to Japan and China, with white flowers and pink fruits (rare).
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927). Origin uncertain; perhaps from marl, contracted form of marble + berry, or perhaps from marl + berry.
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