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What is the meaning of phellos in the epithet for Quercus phellos, the biological/scientific name for the willow oak? I've tried some obvious resources, but after 50 years in clinical medicine and education, my high school Latin seems to be running out.

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That's perfectly understandable, as the word isn't Latin, but Greek. φελλός is the Greek for the 'cork oak', Quercus suber. Why this word was used in the binomial for a different species of oak, I can't say, except to note that since the willow oak is not native to Europe it would not have had a Greek or Latin name.

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    It is fairly common for North American plants to have Latin or Greek names in binomial nomenclature. I can certainly imagine Carl Linnaeus, who named Quercus phillos, looking at a herbarium specimen of C. philllos and giving it a similar name to Quercus suber. Carl may have been the "father of taxonomy," but is was nothing if not promiscuous when naming plants. Your answer makes perfect sense. – Michael Owen Sartin Oct 17 '18 at 2:07

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