Quercus coccifera
Common Name: kermes oak 
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: Western Mediterranean, southern Europe, northwestern Africa
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6 where it is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates some part shade but not full shade.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Quercus coccifera, commonly called kermes oak, is a slow-growing, bushy, evergreen scrub oak that typically grows in a shrubby form to 6-12’ tall, but infrequently rises to as much as 20’ tall. It is native to the Mediterranean from Portugal and Spain to Turkey plus parts of northern African including Libya and Morocco.

Ovate to oblong, glossy, dark green leaves (to 1 1/2” long) with spiny margins resemble the leaves of holly but are much smaller. Non-showy monoecious yellowish-green flowers (males in pendulous catkins) bloom March to May. Female flowers are followed by tiny acorns (to 1 1/4” long). Each acorn is enclosed within a spiny, thick-walled and rough-textured cup which covers about ½ of the acorn. Smooth gray bark cracks with age.

This oak is the host for the kermes insect, hence the common name. Cochineal (a red dye) is extracted from the bodies of dead female kermes insects.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word coccum meaning the kermes insect and from -fera meaning bearer.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Oaks in general are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils.

Garden Uses

Hedge or screen.