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