A Tree with Conections
Quercus suber L
Since I was a young boy, I’ve always seen “sobreiros or chaparros” (portuguese name for cork oak trees) around. Being a Mediterranean kind of tree it can be seen all around the country - Portugal. It’s only when traveling south that you can see vast areas of woodlands where the cork tree is predominant. It’s called “Montado”.
|Typical Montado landscape|
I must ask you to forgive me, I’m being rude. Let me introduce myself.
Hello, my name is António. I’m from Portugal. As you may guess by now, Brian invited me to write a bit about cork trees. (I’ll send the money later Brian).
I’m lucky enough to live in a very tiny hamlet surrounded by woodlands. Some times it is quite scary because of how common forest fires are. During my morning walks with our crazy dog Luna, I like to talk to trees and take a few pictures. This summer I got lucky, some of the trees got undressed. It was the strip for the decade... (pause for reflection)
Nothing dirty I’m afraid.
Nothing dirty I’m afraid.
|Just a couple of days after the stripping|
You see, the cork oak tree bark was “harvested.” That only happens to trees that are over 25 years old, and only once a decade. How do they keep track? Quite simple, a bit of white paint.
|Defying gravity with a big burl|
No matter how many times I see it, it still amazes me. Taking a big chunk of the tree’s bark by hand with a special kind of hatchet (no pictures this time) and the tree’s fine with that for the next 150 to 200 years.
|The little bush is a baby cork oak tree in the foreground|
The APCOR (Portuguese Cork Association) data reports that 33% of the cork bark worldwide production is located in Portugal and growing every year. A great deal of industry is reliant on the obvious and humble cork, such as insulation for construction, electronics, shoe industries, fashion industries (wallets, purses), even umbrellas, which are made out of cork because of the natural waterproof properties and natural fire resistance. The areas of Montado are simbiotic to other plant species, wild animals and small live stock like black pigs, goats or sheep that provide lovely and smelly tree food…
|The same tree before and after the stripping.|
Last but not the least, the connection… Only when I began my woodworking journey did I discover that the cork tree is an oak cousin. It’s a thin one but they both belong to the Fagaceae family!
|New tree alongside her mother|
In case you want to dig in a bit deeper, there are a couple of links in english:
Until next time,
Cheers to you all!