Spanish, from Latin spartum, from Greek sparton — more at spire
First Known Use: 1845
Either of two species of gray-green needlegrasses (Stipa tenacissima and Lygeum spartum), native to southern Spain and northern Africa, or the fibre produced by esparto. L. spartum grows in rocky soil on the high plains. S. tenacissima flourishes in sandy, iron-rich soils in dry, sunny locations on the seacoast. Esparto fibre has great strength and flexibility; it is used for making ropes, sandals, baskets, mats, and other durable articles. Esparto leaves are used in the manufacture of paper.