Last week for the mystery seed of the week I showed a photograph of an acorn. I’m surprised I didn’t get any comments from botanical types, because the acorn itself isn’t a seed. Generally one or two seeds are found inside the acorn casing.

Acorns come in many sizes and shapes, depending on what kind of oak tree they come from. There are over 200 species of oaks found in North America, but the species I’m going to show you today comes from the Mediterranean region. It is the cork oak, Quercus suber.

When my son and I read that cork oaks can grow in Arizona, I immediately called a botanically-minded friend. Yes, she knew where we could see one growing. We hopped in the car.

The first thing you notice about this glorious tree is its unusual bark. The cork bark is used for bulletin boards, flooring, gaskets, and wine corks. As long as it is removed carefully, without touching the cambium underneath, harvesting cork does not harm the tree.

This tree had a rich history. It was planted during WWII when cork was in high demand, but the supplies were largely cut off.

The tree has a lovely, open growth form with gracefully draping branches. I’m afraid my photos were not able to capture its elegant beauty.

Each acorn contains a wrinkly, veined seed.

Aren’t seeds marvelous? Have you ever seen a cork oak?

The Story of Ferdinand

When I see cork oaks, I always think of the book about Ferdinand the Bull with its delightful, whimsical illustrations of the corks on the trees.

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