The distinctive cork oak provides year-round interest at the eastern end of the Glasshouse Range.
Comprising between 400 and 450 species the genus Quercus consists mainly of northern hemisphere trees, though there are some shrubby species, and a few southern hemisphere species. The bark of most species is thick and rough, and the lobed or unlobed leaves are arranged in a spiral. The cork oak (Q. suber) has a natural range of southern Europe and north Africa, where it can reach up to 22m in height. It is an evergreen species whose serrated leaves have a glossy upper surface and a felted lower surface, and whose acorns are of variable shape up to 4cm in length. It is for the bark which this species is best known, and this specimen shows the typical rough, craggy, thick bark which is harvested commercially. Today cork is harvested mainly for the production of wine corks, but it has been used historically for buoys for nets and anchors, and also in the production of shoes, among others. The majority of commercial cork harvesting is carried out in Spain and Portugal, where cork is harvested at approximately nine year intervals for 50 years of the tree’s life.