Oak comes from oak trees. Oak trees are native to North America but are now found in most parts of the world, except extremely cold places. They grow in China, the Himalayas, most of Europe and in parts of South America.
Humans have used oak wood for thousands of years. The wood is prized for its strength, hardness and resistance to insect damage and rot. It is used in shipbuilding, furniture making and flooring. Oak wood is also used to make sports equipment, musical instruments and barrels to hold wines and other liquors.
There are over 400 species of oak. Oak trees can be either deciduous or evergreen, and given advantageous environmental conditions, most can live for hundreds of years.
Among the more popular species of oak is the White Oak, which can be found from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas. The Black Oak can be found from Maine down to Florida, west to Texas and north to Minnesota. The Holm Oak is an evergreen that grows in the Mediterranean.
The outer bark of the Cork Oak, which also comes from the Mediterranean, can be harvested to make flooring and bottle stoppers. This bark can be harvested without damaging the tree.