by Lisa Reynolds, Public Relations & Marketing Manager, San Diego Botanic Gardens and Deb Shaw

Cork oak trunk at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

Cork oak trunk at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

This Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 11 am, the San Diego Botanic Garden will present a rare demonstration by Matt Ritter on how to harvest cork from a live cork oak tree in the grove at the San Diego Botanic Garden.

The cork oak is one of the world’s most interesting and iconic tree species. Commercial cork comes from the thick, spongy, outer bark which is harvested in the tree’s native range in Spain and Portugal. The outer bark of each tree is skillfully and harmlessly stripped off the trunk once every decade, allowing new bark to regrow. Cork oaks are widely grown in California as ornamental trees, but the bark is rarely harvested. The San Diego Botanical Garden has a beautiful grove of cork oak trees that is a perfect place to host this demonstration.

Cork oak trunk at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

Cork oak branch at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

Botany Professor Matt Ritter will show how the outer bark of the cork oak is carefully harvested so as to not damage the tree. Using special tools and the same techniques employed by cork harvesters in Portugal, he will demonstrate how this amazing renewable resource can be sustainably harvested. Come see this rare opportunity right here in California!

The San Diego Botanic Gardens are located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, in Encinitas. Open from 9 am – 5 pm daily; adult admission is $14; seniors, students and active military are $10; children 3 – 18 are $8; and children 2 and under are free. Parking is $2, except for members and for electric vehicles, which are free.

Cork oak trunk at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

Cork oak trunk at San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Deb Shaw, © 2014.

About Matt Ritter
Matt Ritter is a professor in the Biology Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He has authored numerous scientific papers and botanical treatments, including the second edition of the “Jepson Manual,” “The Flora of North America Project,” and a “Natural History Guide to San Luis Obispo’s Native Plants.” He is also the author of “A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us,” the state’s most popular natural history guide to the urban forest. He is the California Coordinator of the American Forests Big Tree Registry, and editor-in-chief of Madroño, the journal of the California Botanical Society. He is an avid woodworker and gardener, and spent part of a recent sabbatical in Portugal, the cork oak capital of the world.

And if you would like more Matt Ritter…

Matt Ritter will be the keynote presenter at the 20th Anniversary Botanical Artist Guild of Southern California celebration dinner in August at the Los Angeles County Botanical Gardens & Arboretum. All are invited and we hope to see you there!

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