Cork oak

in Species Guide
Latin name : Quercus Suber Family : Fagaceae Genus : Quercus

We recognize cork oak by:

  • Its thick, knobbly bark.
  • Its alternate leaves, serrated and downy on one side
  • Its elongated brown acorns with a hairy tip.


Sites favored by this species 


Annual average of 13°-16°C. This species is heliophilous (likes sunlight) and thermophile (likes heat). This is a Mediterranean/Atlantic species found on the coast and up to 300 km inland. Cork oak does not withstand frost. It needs a dry period in summer if it is to grow.


Annual average between 500 and 1,200 mm per year. It requires atmospheric humidity of 60%. The cork oak does not appreciate water-logged conditions.


The cork oak is calcifuge, in other words it does not tolerate chalky soils. It prefers acidic flinty soils. In France, it is found up to 700 m altitude.

Root development of the cork oak

  • Taproot system
  • Very deep

Growth and production of cork oak

  • Production of 1-2 kg of cork per tree per year

Cork oak plantation

Density Spacing Benefits and drawbacks
400 to 650 plants/hectare 4 m x 4 m or 4 m x 5 m Cork can be harvested every 10-15 years.. There are plenty of productive shoots and suckers on this kind of stand. Cork harvesting can sometimes weaken the stands, so they should be restored through silvicultural work.


Cork oak wood

  • Brown-gray with distinct sapwood
  • Wood difficult to work with
  • Very durable, strong, heavy heartwood.
  • Excellent firewood, used in joinery.
  • Bark used for cork (bottle corks, insulation)
  • Also used for decoration.


Not affected by any major disease, but watch for

Platypus Cylindrus (oak pinhole borer) and carpenter ants.


Economic view

Cork forests are a profitable investment. As well as producing excellent firewood and wood for joinery, the species is renowned for the high quantities of cork it produces.

Its bark can be up to 25 cm thick. It is used to make cork stoppers as well as insulation panels. Cork oak generates profits thanks to its high productivity.

On the other hand, it is a demanding species that requires specific forest stands. Forêt Investissement can advise you if you are looking to acquire a cork forest.

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