The cork oak, the national tree of Portugal since 2012, occupies about 1/4 of the Portuguese forest area and has great economic (for the extraction of cork) and ecological value that the cork oak forest is home to a large number of plants and animal species. We can find cork oaks forming large areas (the "montado" in Portuguese) or small settlements.
When walking through the Agrelos forest park (Santa Cruz do Douro) some years ago (at the time of the first digital cameras), I marvelled at this old path bordered by cork oaks on one side and softwood trees on the other. On the left are the cork oaks' curved, branched and dark trunks (the cork had already been removed a few years ago); on the right, the perfectly vertical, upright and horizontally branched trunks of the softwood trees.
The February afternoon light was filtered through the canopy of cork oaks, creating a dreamlike, bucolic and romantic atmosphere. I felt like staying there waiting for the twilight... Maybe a Hobbit would appear…
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