General info about Fruit
There is a strong association between the caperbush and oceans and seas. Capparis spinosa is said to be native to the Mediterranean basin, but its range stretches from the Atlantic coasts of the Canary Islands and Morocco to the Black Sea to the Crimea and Armenia, and eastward to the Caspian Sea and into Iran. Capers probably originated from dry regions in west or central Asia. Known and used for millennia, capers were mentioned by Dioscorides as being a marketable product of the ancient Greeks. Capers are also mentioned by the Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder.
English: caper, caperberry, caperbush
French: câprier, câpres, fabagelle, tapana
German: kapper, Kapernstrauch
Italian: cappero, capperone (fruit)
Spanish: alcaparro,caparra, t�pana; alcaparr�n (berries)
Estonian: torkav, kappar
Hindi: kiari, kobra
Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment.
The flower buds are pickled and used as a flavouring in sauces, salads etc. The young fruits and tender branch tips can also be pickled and used as a condiment. The flower buds are harvested in the early morning and wilted before pickling them in white vinegar. Young shoots - cooked and used like asparagus.
Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit
Analgesic; Anthelmintic; Antihaemorrhoidal; Aperient; Deobstruent; Depurative; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Expectorant; Tonic; Vasoconstrictor.
The root-bark is analgesic, anthelmintic, antihaemorrhoidal, aperient, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic and vasoconstrictive. It is used internally in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections, diarrhoea, gout and rheumatism. Externally, it is used to treat skin conditions, capillary weakness and easy bruising. The bark is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The stem bark is bitter and diuretic. If taken before meals it will increase the appetite. The unopened flower buds are laxative. They are used internally in the treatment of coughs, and externally to treat eye infections. The buds are a rich source of compounds known as aldose-reductose inhibitors - it has been shown that these compounds are effective in preventing the formation of cataracts. The buds are harvested before the flowers open and can be pickled for later use - when prepared correctly they are said to ease stomach pain. A decoction of the plant is used to treat vaginal thrush. The leaves are bruised and applied as a poultice in the treatment of gout.
An extract of the root is used as a cosmetic and is particularly useful in treating rose-coloured rashes and capillary weaknesses.
Related Species and Genera
According to George H. M. Lawrence (1951) the pantropical genus Capparis includes 350 species; including the following:
Capparis brevispina - Indian caper
Capparis decidua(Capparis aphylla) - Sodad, Kureel, Pasi, Ker. Used as a pot herb and pickle. (India, Arabia, North Africa)
Capparis cynophallophora (C. jamaicensis) Jamaica Caper Tree
Capparis flexuosa L. - Bay Leaf Caper
Capparis horrida (syn. C. zeylanica) Fruits are pickled. Also used as a rubefacient.(Tropical Asia and Malaysia)
Capparis mariana - formerly grown as a commercial crop in Guam.
Capparis micrantha - Melada, Caper Thorn. SE asia, Indonesia.
Capparis michellii - Aboriginal Pomegranate, Wild Orange (Australia)
Capparis montana (Aublet) Lemee (syn. Voyara montana) Tree from French Guiana
"The seeds resemble the seeds of an orange. They are enclosed in a gelatinous pulp which is sweet and good to eat." F. Aublet 1775.
Capparis mooni - from India
Capparis nobillis - Wild Lime (Australia)
Capparis ovata - Caper (Mediterranean)
C. pittieri edible fruit (Tropical America)
Capparis umbonata - native to Australia
Capparis sepiaria - Indian Caper (Asia and East African Coasts)
Capparis tomentosa - Kowangee. Cooked leaves are eaten in times of famine. (tropical Africa)
Capparis fascicularis and Capparis tumentosa ( tomentosa?) have been reported to have poisonous fruits.
Recipes made mainly with this Fruit
Capers of commerce are immature flower buds which have been pickled in vinegar or preserved in granular salt. Semi-mature fruits (caperberries) and young shoots with small leaves may also be pickled for use as a condiment.
Capers have a sharp piquant flavor and add pungency, a peculiar aroma and saltiness to comestibles such as pasta sauces, pizza, fish, meats and salads. The flavor of caper may be described as being similar to that of mustard and black pepper. In fact, the caper strong flavor comes from mustard oil: methyl isothiocyanate (released from glucocapparin molecules) arising from crushed plant tissues .
Capers make an important contribution to the pantheon of classic Mediterranean flavors that include: olives, rucola (argula, or garden rocket), anchovies and artichokes.
Tender young shoots including immature small leaves may also be eaten as a vegetable, or pickled. More rarely, mature and semi-mature fruits are eaten as a cooked vegetable. Additionally, ash from burned caper roots has been used as a source of salt.