Oak trees are deciduous and have broad leaves. Oak trees are part of the Beech family, and are part of both the Lithocarpus and Quercus genera. Their lifespan can be as long as two centuries. Oak trees originate in the northern hemisphere. These slow-growing trees are characterized by their smooth and spirally displayed leaves. They bear a fruit (nut) called the acorn. There are a variety of uses for oak trees.
Oak trees offer various traditional medicinal uses. Distilled water that is extracted from the buds of the leaves can be taken either externally or internally to soothe minor inflammations. Oak leaves that are bruised can be placed over hemorrhoids and wounds in order to provide relief from inflammation. The bark is particularly common for medicinal uses, and functions as an astringent, tonic and antiseptic. It can used to treat hemorrhages and agues (which involves fever, chills and sweating, usually due to malaria). Finely ground oak bark can also halt nosebleeds. Powdered and ground acorns can operate as a treatment for diarrhea.
Certain varieties of oak trees are commonly used to make wine, such as the French oak and the American white oak. Oak in wine can have a vast effect on the overall feel of the drink, and can influence the taste, color, scent, texture and tannin of the wine. Tannin is a type of astringent and plant polyphenol that has a bitter flavor. Tannins are closely linked to the aging process of wine, as well as fruit ripening. Oak in wine can also make the beverage have a vanillin flavor (vanillin is an organic compound that is derived from vanilla beans).
Bark from Cork oak trees is often used to make wine stoppers, which are also known as corks. Cork oak trees are cultivated around the Mediterranean Sea, and tend to appear in nations in southern Europe and north Africa such as Morocco, Algeria, Portugal and Spain.
Japanese oak trees are commonly used to produce professional drum sets, particularly by the Yamaha electronics and music company. Oak trees have hard, rough and sturdy surfaces, which offer the drums a significantly louder, brighter and clearer tone, as opposed to standard drums which are made out out birch or maple.
Wood chips from oak trees are used for the smoking process in cooking. The smoking process involves exposing food to smoke from burning wood. Fish and meat are commonly smoked, as are vegetables and cheese.