The Cork Oak Quercus suber lives up to its name in its native Spain and Portugal where the bark is harvested to provide corks for wine and other bottles. The specimen at Tollymore, in Co. Down, is carefully protected behind a wooden fence just within the arboretum, perhaps to prevent people helping themselves to a cork or two.
This oak is a craggy old specimen, looking as though it should be on a dry rocky outcrop in Spain rather than in damp Co. Down. The trunk is solid, with three main branches forming a spreading crown. Its bark is thick and fissured, sections along the branches looking just like rows of bottle corks ready and waiting to be used.
Our damp climate has encouraged epiphytes – plants growing on the bark (not parasites) – such as lichens, mosses, and these ferns.