One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various South American trees constituting the genus Quillaja (family Rosaceae); especially the soapbark tree, Q. saponaria, of the Chilean and Peruvian Andes; (in form Quillaja) the genus itself. Also: the saponin-rich inner bark of this tree or an extract made from it, used as a substitute for soap, a food additive, etc.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in John Lindley (1799–1865), botanist and horticulturist. From scientific Latin Quillaja, genus name (G. I. Molina Saggio sulla storia naturale del Chili 354; also as Quillaia, Quillaya) from Mapuche quillai + scientific Latin -a.
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