Book of Mediterranean Trees, Shrubs and Climbers


Quercus coccifera  Kermes Oak
Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus  [KWER-kus]  Latin name for an oak tree; some authorities derive word form Celtic quer, fine and cuez, a tree
Species coccifera  [kok-SIF-er-a]  L coccus, from the Greek of the Kermes insect and L fera, bearer, alluding to the kermes insect parasitic on this tree, and which yields a crimson dye
Properties shrub
Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak, is an oak in the Quercus section Cerris. It is native to the Mediterranean region and Northern African Maghreb, south to north from Morocco to France and west to east from Portugal to Cyprus and Turkey, crossing Spain, Italy, Libya, Balkans, and Greece, including Crete. The Kermes Oak was historically important as the food plant of the Kermes scale insect, from which a red dye called crimson was obtained. The etymology of the specific name 'coccifera' is related to the production of red cochineal (crimson) dye and derived from Latin coccum which was from Greek κὀκκος, the kermes insect. The Latin -fera means 'bearer'.
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