Cork is an impermeable buoyant material, the phellem layer of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber (the cork oak), which is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance. Because of its impermeable, buoyant, elastic, and fire retardant properties, it is used in a variety of products, the most common of which is wine stoppers. The montado landscape of Portugal produces approximately half of the cork harvested annually worldwide, with Corticeira Amorim being the leading company in the industry. Cork was examined microscopically by Robert Hooke, which led to his discovery and naming of the cell.
Cork composition varies depending on geographic origin, climate and soil conditions, genetic origin, tree dimensions, age (virgin or reproduction), and growth conditions. However, in general, cork is made up of suberin (average of about 40%), lignin (22%), polysaccharides (cellulose and hemicellulose) (18%), extractables (15%) and others.