One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A genus of mostly spiny or prickly trees and shrubs of the family Fabaceae (Leguminosae), native to warm arid regions of America, Asia, and Africa, and bearing spikes of small green or yellow flowers and usually fleshy pods; (in form prosopis) a tree or shrub of this genus.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in James Lee (1715–1795), nurseryman. From scientific Latin Prosopis (Linnaeus Mantissa plantarum i. 10) from post-classical Latin prosopis burdock from Hellenistic Greek προσωπίς burdock (Dioscorides) from ancient Greek πρόσωπον face + -ίς, so called because the flower of the burdock was thought to resemble a face; the reason for the application of the name of the burdock to the present plant is unknown.
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