It was far too frickin freezing this morning to be outside. It was so cold that I even invited a Jehovah’s Witness in for a cup of tea. He politely declined, sensing I was a woman who simply couldn’t be saved and carried on his way. He was after all on a mission from God.

The gentleman did leave me some reading material that, surprisingly, did catch my botanical interest. Awake magazine’s July 2011 issue has an article about cork. I haven’t paid much attention to cork, even though it is an often-met hurdle between me and a glass of some sparkling elixir. But the JW magazine has, and here I summarise some of the most interesting tidbits.

  • The outer layer of bark from the cork oak tree is phenomenally useful due to it’s light, fire-resistant, insulation and elastic properties.
  • Harvesting is done completely by hand and top-quality corks are still punched by hand.
  • The trees are first harvested at 25 years. The bark regrows and is harvested every 9-10 years after that. The best quality wine corks are taken from trees that are at least 50 years old.
  • Spain and Portugal’s cork forests support several birds in danger of extinction – the imperial eagle, the black vulture and the black stork -as well as the Iberian lynx.

2 Responses to “Corker”

  1. 1 Marguerite
    July 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    James Hector and co tried out growing cork in the Welington Botanic Garden:

  2. July 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    That’s interesting. I wouldn’t have thought Wellington Botanic Gardens was much like Portugal. Also interesting since we just don’t do cork in NZ anymore, screw caps being much more the thing.

    Thanks Marguerite!

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