The Capparaceae (or Capparidaceae), commonly known as the caper family, are a family of plants in the order Brassicales. As currently circumscribed, the family contains 33 genera and about 700 species. The largest genera are Capparis (about 150 species), Maerua (about 100 species), Boscia (37 species) and Cadaba (30 species).
The Capparaceae have long been considered closely related to and have often been included in the Brassicaceae, the mustard family (APG, 1998), in part because both groups produce glucosinolate (mustard oil) compounds. Subsequent molecular studies support Capparaceae sensu stricto as paraphyletic with respect to the Brassicaceae. However Cleome and several related genera are more closely related to members of the Brassicaceae than to the other Capparaceae. These genera are now either placed in the Brassicaceae (as subfamily Clemoideae) or segregated into the Cleomaceae. Several more genera of the traditional Capparaceae are more closely related to other members of the Brassicales, and the relationships of several more remain unresolved. Based on morphological grounds and supported by molecular studies, the American species traditionally identified as Capparis have been transferred to resurrected generic names. Several new genera have also been recently described.
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Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2006. New combinations in Capparaceae sensu stricto for Flora of Ecuador. Harvard Pap. Bot. 11(1): 17–18.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008a. Two new genera of Capparaceae: Sarcotoxicum and Mesocapparis stat. nov., and the reinstatement of Neocalyptrocalyx. Harvard Pap. Bot. 13(1): 103-116.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008b. New combinations in South American Capparaceae. Harvard Pap. Bot. 13(1): 117-120.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008c. Anisocapparis y Monilicarpa: dos nuevos géneros de Capparaceae de América del Sur. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 2(1): 61-74.
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Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008e. A revision of Colicodendron Mart. (Capparaceae s.s.). J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas, 2(1): 75-93.
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Hall, J. C., K. J. Sytsma and H. H. Iltis. 2002. Phylogeny of Capparaceae and Brassicaceae based on chloroplast sequence data. American Journal of Botany 89: 1826-1842 (abstract here).
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Hall, J. C. 2008. Systematics of Capparaceae and Cleomaceae: an evaluation of the generic delimitations of Capparis and Cleome using plastid DNA sequence data. Botany 86: 682–696.
Iltis, H. H. & Cornejo, X. 2007. Studies in the Capparaceae XXX. Capparicordis, a new genus from the Neotropics. Brittonia 59: 246–254.
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