A Mediterranean species, typical of garrigue vegetation, Quercus coccifera is a small, very slow-growing, suckering, evergreen shrub (rarely, a small tree) with a densely branched habit. The leaves are very small and leathery, rather holly-like, with spines on the lobes. Reddish flowers are borne in spring, followed by small acorns in cups with reflexed spines. The kermes oak tolerates poor, stony soils and chalky soils, and is highly resistant to drought, though not to frost; it does best in coastal areas. It is very suitable for growing in pots on a hot, sunny patio, and is a good subject for bonsai. Historically, it was important as the host of the kermes scale insect, a source of natural crimson dye.