The Scarlet Oak.


A shrub not much regarded or its own account, but from the insect called kermes, which is found upon it; and has at sometimes been supposed a fruit of it: the shrub thence obtained its name of the scarlet oak. It grows only six or eight feet high. The branches are tough, and covered with a smooth greyish bark. The leaves are an inch long, three quarters of an inch broad, of a figure approaching to oval, serrated about the edges, and a little prickly. The flowers are small and inconsiderable; the fruit is an acorn, like that of the common oak, but smaller, standing in its cup. The kermes, or scarlet grain, is a small round substance of the bigness of a pea, of a fine red colour within, and of a purplish blue without, covered with a fine hoary dust, like a bloom upon a plum. It is an insect at that time full of young. When they intend to preserve it in its own form, they find ways of destroying the principle of life within, else the young come forth, and it is spoiled. When they express the juice, they bruise the whole grains, and squeeze it through a hair cloth; they then add an equal weight of fine sugar to it, and send it over to us under the name of juice of kermes; this is used in medicine much more than the grain itself.

It is a cordial, good against faintings, and to drive out the small pox; and for women in childbed. It supports the spirits, and at the same time promotes the necessary discharges.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.