Tree of the Month: February

To celebrate the amazing array of trees we have across our 196 acres, Stephen Middleton from the Friends of Alexandra Park is going to tell us more about them. This month, the Cork Oak: 

Just across the road from the Palace’s Palm Court entrance, by the bus stop, take time to feel the bark of the Cork Oak (Quercus suber). It is soft and spongy which protects the tree from fire in its native Mediterranean region.

This leaning tree is indeed an oak, but not with the classic oak-shaped leaves and it is an evergreen. The tree was probably planted in the 1980s after the fire. These trees can grow up to 20 metres high in their native range.

Romans harvested this tree for its bark to make sandals and fishing floats. In more recent times plantations, in especially Portugal, have been set up to provide corks for wine industry. Up to a 7cm thickness of bark can be harvested every 10 years without harming the tree. Other uses of the bark include flooring and the inside of cricket balls.

There is just one other example of this tree nearby in the park which died about five years ago and has been left as standing dead-wood.

See if you can spot another oak standing next to it, a Turners Oak – a semi evergreen hybrid of the Holm and English Oaks.