Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cork Oak
Quercus suber

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Quercus (KWER-kus) (Info)
Species: suber (SOO-ber) (Info)

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral eastpiney2000 On Mar 23, 2009, eastpiney2000 from Nashville, TN wrote:

Another writer mentioned its use during WWII as a packing material. Farmers were encouraged to grow it during those years and my father planted some on our Dickson County, TN farm, but they didn't live and there are none left.

Positive oceanmystic On Nov 8, 2006, oceanmystic from San Diego, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted a 6' quercus suber in Encinitas in 1986. It is now aprox 30' tall with an equal spread. It is a beautiful and hardy tree. After the first year I have never watered nor fertilized this tree. Though it is evergreen it sheds leaves in the spring as the new growth appears. If there are plants below the canopy this adds work to a gardener's busy spring schedule.
The only drawback is that the deeply fissured bark makes it difficult to keep ants away. The ants allow the new growth to be infested with sooty mold forms on the leaves. This does not seem to harm the tree but I am sure it slows the growth.

Neutral Terry On Aug 30, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

One interesting use for the cork-like bark was during WWII, when the cork was used to cushion fragile items during transport, similar to the ubiquitous Styrofoam "peanuts" we use now. Many sources report Quercus suber is hardy to zone 7.

Positive zepedro On Jun 9, 2003, zepedro wrote:

Monoecious tree, perennial of the Fagaceae family and of the Quercus gender, 10 15 (-20) m high and 4 5 m high in DAP (diameter 1.30m from the ground), with a wide and not very dense crown
Trunk with thick branches and covered by a thick, cracked rhytidome, the cork. Leaves: coriaceous (falling in the Spring of the second year) slightly serrate and denticulate, dark green and glabrescent on the upper side and whitish and stellate-tomentose on the underside. Masculine and feminine flowers arranged in a spicate inflorescence; flowering almost all year, the main flowering period being between April and July.
Fruit: a glans commonly called acorn, has various periods of fructification; the first, basto, ripens in September October; the second, lande, is generally more abundant, ripening in November December and the last, landisco consists of small fruits of an imperfect maturation.

It is a slow-growing species living for up to 300 years or longer.


Characteristic of areas with a Mediterranean climate, though requiring a lot of atmospheric humidity. The areas where the species prospers best require an average rainfall of between 600 and 800 mm a year. However, it tolerates average annual rainfall close to 2 000 mm.

If the rainfall drops to 400 mm the cork oak starts to regress.

The cork oak cannot withstand winter temperatures lower than -5C.

As far as altitude is concerned, cork oaks grow best in regions lower than 200 m.

Cork oaks grow in almost any kind of soil, except in soils with a compact calcareous content.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Brentwood, California
Chico, California
Concord, California
Encinitas, California (2 reports)
Eureka, California
Modesto, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California
San Dimas, California
San Francisco, California
West Sacramento, California
Williams, California
Portland, Oregon
Kerrville, Texas
Langley, Washington

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