Cork Oak

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  • Botanical: Quercus suber
  • Family: Fagaceae
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Cork Oak

Botanical

Quercus suber

Family

Fagaceae

Known as

Korkeiche, Sorbriero

Old Use

medical, culinary, industry

Parts Used

seed

Aroma

sweet

Medicinal

bleeding, diarrhea

Heart & Circulation

bleeding

Stomach & Intestinal

diarrhea

Properties

astringent

Description

It grows to up to 20 m (66 ft), although it is typically more stunted in its native environment. The leaves are 4 to 7 cm (1.6 to 2.8 in) long, weakly lobed or coarsely toothed, dark green above, paler beneath, with the leaf margins often downcurved. The acorns are 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 in) long, in a deep cup fringed with elongated scales.

Properties & Uses

Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of haemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery etc.

Other Uses

A mulch of the leaves repels slugs, grubs etc, though fresh leaves should not be used as these can inhibit plant growth. Oak galls are excrescences that are sometimes produced in great numbers on the tree and are caused by the activity of the larvae of different insects. The insects live inside these galls, obtaining their nutrient therein. When the insect pupates and leaves, the gall can be used as a rich source of tannin, that can also be used as a dyestuff. A fairly wind-tolerant tree, it can be used in shelterbelt plantings. Bark is the source of cork, it is much used for heat and sound insulation, flooring, floats etc. Trees are first harvested when they are 25 - 30 years old, and then harvested every 6 - 12 years. The bark must be removed carefully so as not to harm the tree. A large tree can yield up to 1 tonne of cork. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 16.9% tannin.

Seed - cooked. A famine food. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread. The seed contains bitter tannins, these can be leached out by thoroughly washing the seed in running water though many minerals will also be lost. Either the whole seed can be used or the seed can be dried and ground it into a powder. It can take several days or even weeks to properly leach whole seeds, one method was to wrap them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. Leaching the powder is quicker. A simple taste test can tell when the tannin has been leached. The traditional method of preparing the seed was to bury it in boggy ground overwinter. The germinating seed was dug up in the spring when it would have lost most of its astringency. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Cautions

none known

Distribution

It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.

Constituents

gallic, protocatechuic, vanillic, caffeic, ferulic, and ellagic acids; protocatechuic, vanillic, coniferyl, and sinapic aldehydes; and aesculetin and scopoletin

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.