Quercus Suber is commonly known as Cork Oak and these magnificent trees can be seen all over the Mediterranean but it is the cork oak forests of the Alentejo in Portugal that supplies almost the entire cork production for wine bottles for the whole world.
These trees are not newcomers to our shores, with our strong ties to Portugal these trees have been brought to the UK since the 17th Century and there are some extraordinary specimens including one at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. They grow particularly well in the south of the country as they like hot dry conditions and will tolerate a frost but they're not keen on cold and damp conditions.
When grown in the UK we can't hope to get to the stage of harvesting the cork - that takes 25 years even in Portugal!
Here, they are loved as a beautiful architectural tree and the bark does have an extraordinary texture, perfect as a statement tree, they have been growing in popularity with garden designers and have made a few notable appearances at the RHS Chelsea Flower show in recent years.
Other Quercus trees include the Quercus Ilex which is an evergreen oak native to the UK - it is similar but does not have the same gnarled bark as the Cork Oak
Ficus Carica - Fig Trees
Olea Europea - Olive Tree