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Cork Oak in Portugal

Posted by Luci Ackers on 10 March 2015
Related property: Rocha Brava
Cork Oak tree Cork Oak tree Cork Oak harvest

Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer, with the rich-coloured cork oak trees covering much of the inland hill country. Cork bark began to be harvested commercially in Portugal around 300 years ago and the trees are responsible for supplying the corks for some of the best wines, as well as being used for flooring, fashion, and even in NASA spaceships - where it was previously used for insulation! 

The cork oak forests around the Algarve provide very high quality cork and also create wonderfully scenic walking routes to explore; the trees are big and rugged with evergreen foliage, acorns and thick cork coats. The cork oak provides the area with a vital source of income and so are highly respected, with the cork industry ensuring protection and conservation of the woodlands they harvest from. The bark of the oak is carefully cropped by hand, using a special axe, every eight to 11 years. This exposes the reddish-brown bark beneath which will dull down to grey with ageing and the eventual re-growth of the cork. Whilst you're walking you may notice the white numbers painted onto the trunks – these refer to the last year that the trees were “de-corked”.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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