www.mobot.org Research Home | Search | Contact | Site Map  

North America
South America
General Taxonomy
Photo Essays
Training in Latin

Wm. L. Brown Center
Graduate Studies
Research Experiences
  for Undergraduates

Imaging Lab
MBG Press
Climate Change
Catalog Fossil Plants
Image Index
Rare Books

Res Botanica
All Databases
What's New?
People at MO
Visitor's Guide
Jobs & Fellowships
Research Links
Site Map


Browse by Keyword





A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

Coccus: coccus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cocco, nom. pl. cocco, acc. pl. coccos, dat. & abl. pl. coccis;

with several meanings, the basic one being a berry (fruit) or a round (spherical) object ranging in size from that of a pea (or a single grape berry) down to small round granules;

[> Latin and Greek: in general usage, these words initially referred to a berry (fruit) in their basic meaning; compound words may use either Latin or Greek word elements:

A. Latin: coccum,-i (s.n.II), borrowed from Gk. “kokkos (a berry, and specifically) the [berry] that grows upon the scarlet oak (Quercus coccifera; according to modern botany a kind of insect, cochineal kermes), with which scarlet was colored; also used in medicine [Pliny]; scarlet color: rubro cocco tingere (to dye with coccum [scarlet] red); ... Coccum Gnidium, also called granum Gnidium, a grain of the shrub thymelaea cnestron, or cneoron, used in medicine” (Lewis & Short); = one of the meanings of Casia,-ae (s.f.I) or Cassia,-ae (s.f.I), “a fragrant, shrub-ike plant, mezereon, also called cneoron or thymelaea” (Lewis & Short); Thymelaea,-ae (s.f.I), “a plant, the flax-leaved daphne: Daphne Gnidium L. [of Pliny]” (Lewis & Short).

NOTE: Daphne gnidium L., Spurge Flax, Flax-leaved Daphne, an evergreen Mediterranian shrub with drupes that are round and red. It was used in [historical] texile dyeing; medicinally parts of this plant may have limited use as an abortive, or as a drastic purgative to treat constipation and externally to rid the body of lice or tics, but the plant is of high toxicity and death may result.

B. Greek: kokkos (s.m.II), a masculine noun according to Liddell and Scott, meaning ‘grain, seed, as of the pomegranate, poppy, pine, wheat, of weeds in corn [i.e. wheat]; a ‘berry’ (gall) of kermes oak, used to dye scarlet; hence, scarlet (the color); also (as a feminine noun, as is usual with tree names), the kermes oak, Quercus coccifera; also, a pill’ (after Liddell & Scott). Note that the insect galls [cocci] on Quercus coccifera “are round and about the size of a pea” (WIII). Note also kokkOn,-Onos (s.m.III), a pomegranate-seed].

NOTE: the genus Cocos L., the Coconut, Coconut Palm, derives from the Portuguese word for ‘monkey,’ “in reference to the face of the striped nut” (Bailey); “the name comes from Portuguese ‘coco,’ mask” (Stearn 1996). Palmae.

The gender of the genus is feminine: C. nucifera, C. botryophora, C. capitata, C. odorata.


1. (in taxonomy) a berry (fruit), -berried; this meaning is most commonly found in the generic names and species epithets of vascular plants, rather than in prose (texts): Vaccinium atrococcum (black-berried), and forma leucococcum (white-berried); V. Oxycoccos, the old generic name (sour-berried).

Cocculus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cocculo, a small berry.

Vaccinium atrococcum (black-berried) and forma leucococcum (white-berried); V. Oxycoccos, the old generic name (sour-berried);

The subgenera of the genus Vaccinium: Cyanococcus, Blueberry; Oxycoccus, sourberry (the Cranberries) (Fernald 1950).

CHIOCOCCA,-ae (s.f.I), Snow-berry [note, not ‘chionococca’]:

- bacca subrotunda, leviter compressa, nivea, coronara, disperma (Swartz), the berry roundish, lightly compressed, snow-white, crowned, with two seeds.

Coccoloba,-ae (s.f.I), Seaside Grape, > Gk. kokkolobis, “ancient name of a kind of grape also called balisca and transferred to these plants in allusion to the fruit. Polygonaceae.” (Stearn 1996); referring probably to the lobed perianth persisting on the fruit” (Bailey), “achene 3-angled, contained within a fleshy berry-like fruit.” Coccoloba,-ae (s.f.II) > coccos, seed or berry + lobos, ‘capsule, pod’ in reference to the fleshy hypanthium that surrounds the fruit, as in C. uvifera = Polygonum coccoloba (epithet = old generic name; noun in apposition). Polygonaceae. Note that many writers are unaware that the ‘lobos’ in Greek may refer to a [bean] pod or capsule, and not to, e.g. a leaf lobe.

Coccothrinax,-acis (s.f.III), Seamberry Palms: > Gk. kokkos, a berry + (genus) Thrinax, ‘berry-Thrinax;’ “Genus separated in 1899 from Thrinax chiefly because of the divided or ruminate seamy albumen in the black fruit” (Bailey); “a related genus of fan palms. They have berrylike fruits. Palmae” (Stearn 1996).

Cocculus,-i (s.m.II), Moonseed, snail-seed, coral beads; > Gk. kokkos + L. diminutive ending, a (small) berry; “in allusion to the fruits of these evergreen climbers or shrubs. Menispermaceae (Stearn 1996) - a derivitive of (the genus) Menispermum, which has berries 1/3 inch across, whereas [the genus] Cocculus has 1/4 to 1/8 inch across (Bailey).

2. (as a botanical term) coccus,-i (s.m.II) (= mericarp, q.v., or mericarpium) “a shell; a carpel, which separates with elasticity from an axis common to itself and others” (Lindley); one of the segments (carpels) of a dry, lobed fruit, such as a schizocarp; one of the parts into which a lobed fruit with 1-seeded locules splits; also applied to the rounded bacteria (Jackson). In the examples given, the coccus or mericarp is associated with a capsular fruit; see schizocarp.

Carpel, q.v., “a simple pistil, or one element or member of a compound pistil, answering to a single leaf; a female sporophyll” (Jackson); “a specialized leaf which forms either all or part of a pistil” (Benson).

Mericarp, “one of the half fruits of an Umbellifer: it is a carpel ripened and separated from a common axis or growing point” (Lindley); ‘a portion of a fruit which splits away as a perfect fruit; as the two carpels in Umbelliferae’ (Jackson).

Regma,-atis (s.n.III), q.v., abl.sg. regmate: regma, a fruit with elastically dehiscing segments or cocci as in Euphorbia; “a tricoccous fruit like that of Spurges [Euphorbia]. Any such fruit, whether the number of cocci is three or not” (Lindley).

Schizocarp, q.v., a dry, indehiscent fruit splitting into separate one-seeded segments (carpels) at maturity; “a dry compound fruit that splits at maturity into several indehiscent one-seeded carpels” (WIII).

“When such carpels [of fruits] separate with a certain amount of elasticity from the axis to which they are attached, as in some Euphorbiaceae, they have been called cocci. By some botanists, all carpels which thus separate from the axis in a septicidal manner are termed cocci, and the fruit is described as dicoccous, tricoccous, &c, according to their number. In certain fruits, such as those of the Linum catharticum, the ovaries open first by their dorsal suture, and then separate from each other in a septicidal manner. Some botanists call all fruits, the carpels of which separate from each other without opening - schizocarps; and term their component carpels cocci if there are more than two, or if only two in number, as in the Umbelliferae, — mericarps” (Bentley).

- capsula ante maturitatem carnosula fere globosa vel obscure didyma, matura tamen in coccos 2-valves solvitur, capsule before maturity somewhat fleshy almost globose or obscurely two-lobed, mature [sc. capsule] for all that (nevertheless, however, yet) into 2-valved mericarps broken up.

- capsula septicide 5-valvis, 5 - locularis, loculis imperfecte septatis 2-spermis, v. septo perfecto fissili 10-cocca (B&H), capsule septicidally 5-valved, 5-locular, with the locules incompletely septate, 2-seeded, or with a complete splitting septum, with 10 mericarps.

- genus a Pavonia nonnisi coccis glochidiatis differt (B&H), the genus differs from Pavonia only by the glochidiate cocci.

- coccis chartaceis dorso convexis obcordatis intus dehiscentibus ab axi 3-partito solutis (B&H), the mericarps papery, convex on the back, obcordate, deshiscent inside, falling apart from a 3-parted axis.

- capsula 5-cocca, coccis clausis mucilagine viscidulo illinitis (DeCandolle), capsule 5-[mericarped], with the [mericarps] enclosed, smeared over with a somewhat viscid mucilage.

3. In entomology (insects):

Coccus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cocco: “a genus of scale insects in the family Coccidae. It includes species such as Coccus viridis, a major pest of coffee. The type species is Coccus hesperidum Linnaeus” (Wikipedia Jan. 2017). Note that the genus is masculine with a plethora of nouns in apposition as epithets. “Phthiriasis, a disease of plants, produced by three different species [sic] of insects: Aphis, Acarus, and by” the Coccus, of which there are various species. That which in our hot-houses is mostly met with, the Coccus Hesperidum, is the most dangerous; those which are commonly found on the roots of Sceleranthus, Polygonum and others, are less noxious.” (Willdenow).

Tamarix.—T. mannifera produces a saccharine substance, which is known under the name of Mount Sinai Manna. This is considered bv Ehrenberg as an exudation produced by a species of Coccus, which inhabits this plant.—T. gallica, T. orientalis, and some other species of Tamarix are liable to the attack of insects, which produce galls on their surface (Bentley).

The substance known as stick-lac is also derived from this tree [Butea frondosa]. It is produced on the young twigs by the puncture of a species of Coccus. (Bentley).

Quercus coccifera, the Kermes Oak. has its young branches attacked by a species of Coccus, by which little reddish balls are formed upon their surface, which were formerly much used as a crimson dye (Bentley).

4. Pharmacology, especially as a coloring agent in medicinal preparations; a red food dye.

Classically, coccum,-i (s.n.II), referred to a berry, but also the berry-like gall of scale insects that are associated with and parasitic on the Mediterranean Scarlet, or Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera). Such gall-berries (note the fruit of Quercus is an acorn) were used in medicine and in the production of a red dye, derived from the dried bodies of the females primarily of the Old World Kermes vermilio. Kermes may refer to the dye or the insect. Bentley (1887) stated that the Quercus galls were produced by a species of the genus Coccus, perhaps an earlier name for the genus Kermes, both scale insects. The name of the Old World dye is called Cochineal Kermes. The red dye is called crimson.

The Latin color coccinus,-a,-um (adj.A) or coccineus,-a,-um (adj.A), is called ‘scarlet.’ kermesinus,-a,-um (adj.A): crimson, q.v.

Cochineal (a noun), or the Cochineal insect, also known as Mexican Cochineal, is a New World species of scale insect (Dactylopius coccus) whose galls also produce a red dye, but as parasites on the cactus genera Nopalia and Opuntia, not Quercus. The red dye is called carmine. “The fruit of 0puntia Tuna is of a carmine colour, and has been employed as a water-colour.— 0. cochinillifera, the Nopal Plant, is cultivated in Mexico, Teneriffe, &c, for the nourishment of the Cochineal Insect (Coccus Cacti)” (Bentley).

In medicine, the noun Coccus,-i (s.m.II), used in the medicinal preparations, refers to the (Mexican) Cochineal. Cochineal appears to have been used in pharmacological mixtures to give a nice (red) color to the result, i.e., the medicine, just as sugar and rose water gives the mix a nicer taste:

Coccus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cocco, nom. pl. cocci, acc. pl. coccos: (pharm.) Cochineal.

Tinctura,-ae (s.f.I) cocci, Tincture of Cochineal (= gen.sg. coccus,-i (s.m.II)).

Coccus cacti (= gen.sg. of (the genus) Cactus,-i (s.m.I), abl. sg. cocco cacti = Cochineal.

- Recipe Tincturae Cocci fluidrachmam, take 1 fluid drachma of Tincture of Cochineal.

5. a (small) spherical body, any small, rounded body, such as a bead; a (rounded) grain; coccus = “a spherical bacterium” (Ainsworth & Bisby); “a round bacterium or Schizomycete” (S&D);

A. Algae:

- [lower algae]: “The simplest plants, such as the Red Snow (Protococcus), or Gloeocapsa, consist of a single membranous sac, or cell as it is termed, which in form is more or less spherical or oval. In Protococcus the cells separate almost as soon as formed ...” (Bentley). “Several Algae are remarkable for imparting colours to water, snow, &c. Thus, Protococcus atlanticus gives a red colour to certain parts of the Atlantic” (Bentley).

B. Bacteria: “The forms of Bacteria vary considerably, some being small spherical bodies, which may exist singly, or in chains, or in masses [i.e. groups], Micrococci” (Bentley).

Coccus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cocco: (in mycology) a spherical bacterium (Ainsworth & Bisby).

“A coccus (plural cocci) is any bacterium that has a spherical, ovoid, or generally round shape. It is one of the three distinct bacterial shapes, the other two being bacillus (rod-shaped) and spiral-shaped cells; [after Wikipedia Jan 2017]

Diplococci are pairs of cocci (e.g. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Streptococci are chains of cocci (e.g. Streptococcus pyogenes).

Staphylococci are irregular (grape-like) clusters of cocci (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus).

Tetrads are clusters of four cocci arranged within the same plane (e.g. Micrococcus sp.): tetras,-adis (s.f.III), abl.sg. tetrade, nom. & acc. pl. tetrades, gen.pl. tetradum.

C. Lichens and fungi: mainly used for granular (surface) markings, thallus surfaces, or surfaces that are coarsely) powdery or granulose, verrucose (-areolate), with surface granules or rounded protuberances as in crustose or squamulose species; cf. coccochromaticus,-a,-um (adj.A), coccochromus,-a,-um (adj.A): (in fungi) “having color distributed in granular patches” (S&D) [> Gk. kokkos, a berry + chrOma,-atis (s.n.III), color].

Lecidia Sect. L. xanthococca Vain. (lichens), the covered substrate with a beaded or granulose appearance; Thelocarpon coccosporum Lett. in Fedde (lichen);

[lichens] Coccocarpia,-ae (s.f.I), Endococcus,-i (s.m.II), Lichen cocciferus, Cladonia coccifera; Cenomyce coccifera; Scyphophorus cocciferus

Collema coccophorum, a lichen “made up of minute, erect, round-headed lobules or stalked granules.”

- [Synalissa polycocca] Thallus niger granulosus effusus, in glomerulis granulans quasi areolatus, glomerulis polycarpis difformibus granulis cujusvis glomeruli invicem confluentibus, majoribus hemisphaericis fertilibus (Nylander), thallus (a shining) black, granulose [i.e. full of grains], outspread, becoming grainy in glomerules, as if areolate [i.e. marked into small areas), with the polycarpous [i.e. many-fruited] glomerules of different forms [i.e. misshapen] with the granules [i.e. constituent parts] of any of which glomerules in succession confluent, with the larger hemispheric ones fertile.
-coccus,-a,-um (adj.A): L. adj. suffix: see -coccous (Eng. adj. suffix).
-coccus,-i (s.m.II), -cocca,-ae (s.f.I), -coccum,-i (s.n.II):

(L. noun suffix) -coccus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. -cocco, nom. pl. -cocci; -cocca,-ae (s.f.I); -coccum,-i (s.n.II), abl. sg. -cocco;

Nouns: generic names: “plant having berries, seeds, or cocci (of a specified type) - usu. in generic names (Oxycoccus) (Pterococcus); 2: berry-shaped organism - esp in generic names of algae and bacteria (Protococcus) (Micrococcus) (Streptococcus) (Staphylococcus)” (WIII) [> coccus,-i (s.m.II), q.v., with several meanings, the basic one being a berry (fruit) or a round (spherical) object ranging in size from that of a pea (or a single grape berry) down to grains, to small round granules]; more technical meanings must be sought above (“Coccus” under the different organismal groups.

-coccus,-i (s.m.I)

[Algae] Asperococcus; Sphaerococcus

Oxycoccus, Richard. From oxys, sharp, and kokkos, a berry ; sharp acid taste of the berries. Vaccinaceae (Paxton).

-cocca,-ae (s.f.I)

CHIOCOCCA,-ae (s.f.I) [not chionococca] Bacca subrotunda, leviter compressa, nivea, coronara, disperma. (Swartz), the berry roundish, lightly compressed, snow-white, crowned, with two seeds.

- [Melicocca,-ae (s.f.I), [Honey-berry] Nux subrotunda, coriácea, glabra, baccata. Nucleus ejusdem formae, in duas partes divisibilis (Swartz), the nut somewhat round, leathery, glabrous, berry-like. The nutlet of the same shape, divisible into two parts.

- [Melicoccus bijugus] drupae nucis moschatae duplo majores, cortice tenui subfragili, nucem consistentia gelatinosa acido-dulci (vitello ovi haud absmili) indutam, tegente (Swartz), the drupes of the nuts smelling of musk, two times larger, with the skin [i.e. the peel] thin, somewhat fragile, covering the nut which is clothed with a gelatinous consistence that is sour-sweet (not dissimilar to the yolk of an egg).

- Sarcococca,-ae (s.f.I). From sarx, flesh, kokkos, a capsule; fleshy capsules. Euphorbiaceae.(Paxton).

Mallococca,-ae (s.f.I) (=Grewia, The fruit of G. asiatica is acid and pleasant; it is much used in the manufacture of sherbet (Paxton); Prunus Coccomilla.

-coccum,-i (s.n.II)

[fungus] Clathrococcum

[algae] Chlorococcum, Greville. Derived from chloros, green, and kokkos, a berry; on account of their appearance. Linn. 24, Or. 7, Nat. Or. Confervaceae. (Paxton).


A work in progress, presently with preliminary A through R, and S, and with S (in part) through Z essentially completed.
Copyright © P. M. Eckel 2010-2017

© 1995-2017 Missouri Botanical Garden, All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
(314) 577-5100

Technical Support