18. Cork Oak

(Quercus Suber)

Family: Fagaceae


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Next to the HUB's sunny west-facing wall is Washington's largest Cork Oak. Like many oaks, this one is evergreen, with dull, often cupped, prickly leaves. The leaves are adapted to a hot, dry existence. Like all oaks, this produces acorns to reproduce itself. This species is the famous Mediterranean native from which people obtain cork: strip off the spongy bark, and it grows back better than before--a great boon for humanity. The cork from this tree is used for heat and sound insulation, flooring, and floats.  The bark of a cork oak is first harvested when the tree is 25-30 years old and can be harvested every 6-12 years after that. A large tree can yield up to 1 ton of cork. The cork oak is intolerant of extremely cold conditions.

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