Cork oak (Eng), alcornoque (Spa), surera (Cat), artelatz (Baq), sobreiro (Glg), sobreiro (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? ‘Cell’ comes the word used for the dormitories of the monks in monasteries. Its use in biology comes from the 17th century research carried out by the English scientist Robert Hooke, when he saw down a microscope that the cork from this oak tree was made up of compartments like the monks' sleeping quarters.
The cork oak is a large tree that can be up to 25 m tall. It has a broad and rounded crown and its bark is cork. If the cork is removed it exposes a reddish trunk which gradually darkens. The leaves are simple, persistent, alternate, oval or rounded, with a dark green upper side and a whitish underside. The margin is entire or has soft points that are not prickly like those of the holm oak. The yellowish flowers develop in hanging stems in the spring (catkins). The acorns tend to be bitter and have a husk with soft protruding scales.
This is a typically Mediterranean tree that forms forests or occurs mixed with other species with a similar ecology. It grows from sea level up to 1000 m, provided that the soils are acidic or lime-free. It needs somewhat more moisture than the holm oak and does not withstand frosts as well.
This tree lives in the western Mediterranean region. On the Iberian Peninsula it is mainly distributed across the southwestern quadrant, with the largest populations being found in central and southern Portugal, although there are less extensive cork forests in the north and east. The La Mamora forest, on the outskirts of Rabat in Morocco, is the world's largest cork oak woodland.