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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cork Oak Harvest



These are my own photographs that form this collage.

You can learn more about the tree on the Wikepedia page Cork Oak or to give it the proper name Quercus Suber. It is commonly called the Cork Oak because it is the main source for traditional corks you find in wine bottles.

A tree native to south-west Europe it was no surprise to discover them growing locally. When we were recently driving along the road between Marta and Tuscania I spotted some recently harvested trees.

The tree has a very thick and rugged bark which is why when the cork is harvested it is literally only the bark that is extracted, causing no harm what so ever to the tree. The bark re-grows and the tree can be harvested every nine years or so making it a perfect example of renewable resources. The tree does need to be about twenty-five years old though before it is first harvested, so it will probably only be harvested about a dozen times in its lifetime of around one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty year life span. Harvesting the bark is done without fancy machinery just using a small axe, an art still passed down from generation to generation.

Cork-producing trees in Europe provide a source of livelihood for many people. Cork is a natural product and is currently produced using an age old and natural system.  It is sad therefore that the substitution of other materials such as plastic for wine bottle stoppers is currently threatening this ecologically friendly industry. 


Uploaded to Flickr
by JustMikePA


  1. This is my second try the last comment vanished!! I am amazed the trees can stand so much bark being removed and recover. We always ring barked trees in S.Africa that we wanted to die and it worked 100%. It is sad that many wine bottles are now coming with plastic 'corks', or even screw tops, cork seems some how to go with wine. Times are changing! Diane

  2. How fascinating - I had never heard of that!

  3. This is news to me. I thought they only grew in Spain. I adore these tidbits that float in in blogosphere and so create a richer universe of facts to ponder over.

    I love hearing about your daily life too. My husband and I are thinking of doing what you did, find a place in Italy to live in the cold months. Got any hints on how to start? Or, do you know of blogs who cover such things?

  4. The photo looks like a giant wearing shorts and ankle length wellies!!! But very interesting - and I agree with you about the plastic wine corks - they are horrible! xxxMaggie

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  6. Sounds interesting...I never thought about where corks come from!

  7. Beautiful photos and so interesting! I'm an interior designer and recently used cork floor tiles in a High School media center. They are beautiful! Cork flooring is becoming more popular here in the States as more and more people are interested in Green design. And, I despise wine bottles with plastic corks - it's just not right!

  8. Diane - I am also amazed considering what ring barking generally does to trees, although is that done much lower?
    P&P and lakeviewr - One of the things I enjoy about reading blogs is these interesting facts one picks up.
    lakeviewer - We get cold and wet winters in Italy as well! I am biased but would suggest our region as perfect, come and see for yourself sometime, we would be happy to help.
    Maggie - Until you mentioned it I had not noticed :)
    Ronnica - Welcome, thanks for visiting and commenting.
    Alissa - Interesting about the cork floor tiles, we used them in a bathroom in the UK many years ago, must be back in vogue.

  9. Always such interesting things to learn here, Lindy! I don't think I ever thought about where it came from but definitely these beat the awful plastic ones that never seem to go back in the bottle anyway. Have a great weekend and thanks as always for visiting! - g

  10. Georgianna - Delighted you found this interesting.


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