Cork Oak

Quercus suber

Cork Oak Quercus suber trunk

The Cork Oak is a medium-sized evergreen tree with a rounded crown growing up to 20m (66ft) tall.  The bark is a pale-greyish brown, creamy or orangish with deep fissures when left to mature. It is thick and softly corky. The leaves are shallowly lobed and spiny tipped.  In maturity they are smooth and dark green on the upperside, but underneath they are pale grey and felt-like. The acorns are egg-shaped formed in scaly cups. It can live between 150-250 years.

Cork Oak Quercus suber leaves

Grown for ornament in parks and gardens. Introduced from the Mediterranean in the 1690s, and mainly grown for ornament throughout the British Isles. Very occasional.

In other countries such as Spain and Portugal, the bark of the Cork Oak is harvested by stripping it from the trunk to make corks for wine bottles. The cambium and other tissues of the tree are unharmed in this process and the bark regrows back and can be harvested again 9-12 years later. In the distant past it has also being used to make Roman sandals.

Cork Oak (Quercus suber), Warley Woods, Staffordshire, England. November 2012.