The Cork Oak tree is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa and since I live in Spain I have seen a great many of these trees. The pictures from todays post were taken while on a hike to find the "Castaño Santo de Istán" (the Sacred Chestnut of Istan - a tree that is quite famous locally). Our adventure started in the coastal town of "San Pedro de Alcantara" which is just west of the city of "Marbella" on the Spanish Sun Coast. We took a very rugged dirt and rock road that started near a local golf course. After driving for about five miles we parked the car and proceeded on foot towards the renowned tree. On the way however we discovered that the area was mostly populated with Cork Oak trees much like the one in the image above.
Virtually all of the Cork trees had had their "cork" bark harvested at some point which left them with a blackish bark up the main trunk and up to about 12-15 feet off the ground. In my next post I will go into greater detail about the bark of this interesting tree.
One interesting event of this hike happened when I ventured into the stand of Quercus suber above. I was observing the ground that was all rooted up and decided to take a picture. Well just as the camera went click I heard a grunting noise and saw a large black pig out of the corner of my eye just as it dashed into a thicket. This pig and its herd were the ones responsible for the upturned grounded that I had been observing. The reason for this is that they live mainly on the acorns of this and similar Quercus (Oak) tree species. Later when I got home and took a close look at the picture I had taken I discovered that the pig had gotten into the image (the picture below is an amplification of the the bottom right corner of the image above.
After that little incident I rejoined my family who was picnicking in the shade of the "Sacred Chestnut" (the locals call it the grandfather of the forest). The image below is a Cork oak on the left and the Sacred Chestnut on the right. It does not look too huge in this picture but this tree is about 20 feet across!!
The image below is of the bark on a tree that has not had its cork harvested. In Spanish this tree goes by the name "Alcornoque" and a stand of them is called an "Alcornocal". The word for the cork is "corcho".
Some other trees similar to this are the "English Oak" and the "Holm Oak". One tree that is planted in southern Spain and goes by the name Oak although it is not a member of the Quercus genus is the "Australian Silver Oak".