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Starr 050223-4262 Capparis sandwichiana.jpg
Maiapilo (Capparis sandwichiana)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Capparaceae
Genus: Capparis

Many, see text


Atamisquea Miers ex Hook. & Arn.
Beautempsia Gaudich.
Breynia L.
Linnaeobreynia Hutch.
Pseudocroton Müll.Arg.
Sodada Forssk.[1]

C.spinosa var nummularia fruit

Capparis is a flowering plant genus, comprising around 250 species[2] in the family Capparaceae which is included in the Brassicaceae in the unrevised APG II system. These plants are shrubs or lianas and are collectively known as caper shrubs or caperbushes. Capparis species occur over a wide range of habitat in the subtropical and tropical zones.

Plant description[edit]

The leaves are simple, entire and rarely reduced. Flowers are bisexual, bracteates, axillary or supra-axillary, solitary or in rows, in racemes or umbels. Sepals and petals are 4 in number and are free. Stamens are many, ovary on a gynophore, 1-celled. Fruit is a berry, globose or ellipsoid.[3]

Uses and ecology[edit]

The well-known caper is a pickled flower bud of Capparis spinosa.

Caperbushes are mainly used by humans for their fruit, which are rich in micronutrients. C. spinosa, simply known as caper, yields fruit and more importantly flower buds, which are widely used pickled as a vegetable condiment. The fruit of other species, such as karir (C. decidua), are also used for cooking; C. mitchellii and the Wild passionfruit (the local subspecies of C. spinosa) are well-known bush tucker in Australia. Mabinlang seeds (C. masaikai) are eaten as sweets.

Mabinlang is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Aspalathos, the root of a shrub contained for example in the sacred Ancient Egyptian incense kp.t (kyphi), is sometimes considered to be C. spinosa. Other species have also recorded uses in herbalism and folk medicine; dedicated research is largely lacking however. Mabinlins are sweet-tasting proteins found in Mabinlang seed (and possibly in other Capparis species); at least one of them is highly resistant to heat. The market for mabinlins is not large, but this is mainly due to insufficient supply rather than to lack of demand.

The 1889 book The Useful Native Plants of Australia records that Capparis canescens was also referred to as "Mondoleu" by the indigenous people from Rockhampton area of Queensland and that "The fruit is pyriform and half an inch in diameter. It is eaten by the aborigines without any preparation." (Thozet.) Mr. P. O'Shanesy observes that the pulpy part in which these Australian species of Capparis are imbedded is a good substitute for mustard."[4]

Caperbushes from arid regions - chiefly C. decidua - are highly useful in landscape gardening, afforestation and reforestation. They can stop soil erosion and preserve agricultural land. Any large-flowered species can be used to attract butterflies. The Crimson Rose (Atrophaneura hector), a spectacular swallowtail butterfly of South Asia, likes to visit flowers of C. spinosa in the winter months for example.

Many birds eat ripe Capparis spinosa fruit and seeds.

The fruit and seeds of caperbushes are relished by many birds and other animals such as spiny-tailed lizards. Capparis plants are highly important as food for certain Lepidoptera caterpillars, many of them being Pierinae:

The plant pathogenic ascomycete fungus Mycosphaerella capparis was described from a caperbush. Some species of Capparis are becoming rare, mainly due to habitat destruction, and a few are seriously threatened with extinction.


Drawing of Capparis micracantha, showing its parts. Francisco Manuel Blanco, Flora de Filipinas, etc (1880-1883)
Drawing of Capparis "sepiaria", showing its parts. Francisco Manuel Blanco, Flora de Filipinas, etc. (1880-1883)

Plants of the World Online currently includes:[9]

  1. Capparis acutifolia Sweet
  2. Capparis annamensis (Baker f.) M.Jacobs
  3. Capparis anomala (F.Muell.) Christenh. & Byng
  4. Capparis arborea (F.Muell.) Maiden – Brush caper
  5. Capparis artensis Montrouz.
  6. Capparis assamica Hook.f. & Thomson
  7. Capparis bachii Sy, R.K.Choudhary & Joongku Lee
  8. Capparis batianoffii Guymer
  9. Capparis beneolens Gagnep.
  10. Capparis bodinieri H.Lév.
  11. Capparis brachybotrya Hallier f.
  12. Capparis brassii DC.
  13. Capparis brevispina DC.
  14. Capparis burmanica Collett & Hemsl.
  15. Capparis buwaldae M.Jacobs
  16. Capparis callophylla Blume
  17. Capparis canescens Banks ex DC.
  18. Capparis cantoniensis Lour.
  19. Capparis cartilaginea Decne.
  20. Capparis cataphyllosa M.Jacobs
  21. Capparis chingiana B.S.Sun
  22. Capparis chrysomeia Bojer
  23. Capparis cinerea M.Jacobs
  24. Capparis cleghornii Dunn
  25. Capparis corymbosa Lam.
  26. Capparis cucurbitina King
  27. Capparis daknongensis Sy, G.C.Tucker, Cornejo & Joongku Lee
  28. Capparis dasyphylla Merr. & F.P.Metcalf
  29. Capparis decidua (Forssk.) Edgew. (= C. aphylla) – karir (kirir, k(h)air, karril, etc.)
  30. Capparis diffusa Ridl.
  31. Capparis dioica Gilg
  32. Capparis divaricata Lam.
  33. Capparis diversifolia Wight & Arn.
  34. Capparis dongvanensis Sy, B.H.Quang & D.V.Hai
  35. Capparis echinocarpa Pierre ex Gagnep.
  36. Capparis erycibe Hallier f.
  37. Capparis erythrocarpos Isert
  38. Capparis fascicularis DC.
  39. Capparis fengii B.S.Sun
  40. Capparis flavicans Kurz
  41. Capparis floribunda Wight
  42. Capparis florida Fici & Souvann.
  43. Capparis fohaiensis B.S.Sun
  44. Capparis formosana Hemsl.
  45. Capparis fusifera Dunn
  46. Capparis gialaiensis Sy
  47. Capparis grandidieri Baill.
  48. Capparis grandiflora Wall. ex Hook.f. & Thomson
  49. Capparis grandis L.f.
  50. Capparis hainanensis Oliv.
  51. Capparis henryi Matsum.
  52. Capparis hereroensis Schinz
  53. Capparis heteracantha DC.
  54. Capparis hinnamnoensis Souvann. & Fici
  55. Capparis humistrata (F.Muell.) F.Muell.
  56. Capparis hypovellerea Gilg & Gilg-Ben.
  57. Capparis jacobsii Hewson
  58. Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V.Hai
  59. Capparis kebarensis Fici
  60. Capparis khuamak Gagnep.
  61. Capparis klossii Ridl.
  62. Capparis koioides M.Jacobs
  63. Capparis kollimalayana M.B.Viswan.
  64. Capparis lanceolaris DC.
  65. Capparis lanceolatifolia Fici, Bouaman. & Souvann.
  66. Capparis laotica Gagnep.
  67. Capparis lasiantha R.Br. ex DC.
  68. Capparis lobbiana Turcz.
  69. Capparis longestipitata Heine
  70. Capparis longgangensis S.L.Mo & X.S.Lee ex Y.S.Huang
  71. Capparis loranthifolia Lindl.
  72. Capparis lucida (Banks ex DC.) Benth.
  73. Capparis macleishii (A.G.Mill.) Christenh. & Byng
  74. Capparis macrantha Souvann., Fici & Lanors.
  75. Capparis masaikai H.Lév.
  76. Capparis mekongensis Gagnep.
  77. Capparis membranifolia Kurz
  78. Capparis micracantha DC.
  79. Capparis micrantha A.Rich.
  80. Capparis mitchellii (Lindl. ex F.Muell.) Lindl. – wild orange (Australia), merne atwakeye (Arrernte)
  81. Capparis monantha M.Jacobs
  82. Capparis moonii Wight
  83. Capparis multiflora Hook.f. & Thomson
  84. Capparis nana Craib
  85. Capparis nilgiriensis Subba Rao, Kumari & V.Chandras.
  86. Capparis nobilis (Endl.) F.Muell. ex Benth. - devil's guts (Norfolk Island)
  87. Capparis nummularia DC.
  88. Capparis olacifolia Hook.f. & Thomson
  89. Capparis ornans F.Muell. ex Benth.
  90. Capparis pachyphylla M.Jacobs
  91. Capparis parvifolia Fici
  92. Capparis poggei Pax
  93. Capparis pranensis (Pierre ex Gagnep.) M.Jacobs
  94. Capparis pseudocerasifera Hauman
  95. Capparis pubiflora DC.
  96. Capparis pubifolia B.S.Sun
  97. Capparis pyrifolia Lam.
  98. Capparis quiniflora DC.
  99. Capparis radula Gagnep.
  100. Capparis ramonensis Danin
  101. Capparis rheedei DC.
  102. Capparis richardii Baill.
  103. Capparis rigida M.Jacobs
  104. Capparis rotundifolia Rottler
  105. Capparis roxburghii DC.
  106. Capparis rufidula M.Jacobs
  107. Capparis sabiifolia Hook.f. & Thomson
  108. Capparis sandwichiana DC. – Hawaiian caper,[10] Maiapilo, Pua pilo (Hawaiʻi endemic)[11]
  109. Capparis sarmentosa A.Cunn. ex Benth.
  110. Capparis scortechinii King
  111. Capparis sepiaria L.; a cryptic species complex
  112. Capparis shanesiana F.Muell.
  113. Capparis shevaroyensis Sundararagh.
  114. Capparis siamensis Kurz
  115. Capparis sikkimensis Kurz
  116. Capparis spinosa L.Caper
    (note: C. zoharyi Inocencio, D.Rivera, Obón & Alcaraz is a synonym of C. spinosa var. aegyptia (Lam.) Boiss.)
  117. Capparis srilankensis Sundararagh.
  118. Capparis subsessilis B.S.Sun
  119. Capparis sunbisiniana M.L.Zhang & G.C.Tucker
  120. Capparis tagbanuorum Fici
  121. Capparis tchaourembensis Fici
  122. Capparis tenera Dalzell
  123. Capparis thorelii Gagnep.
  124. Capparis thozetiana (F.Muell.) F.Muell.
  125. Capparis tomentosa Lam.
  126. Capparis tonkinensis Gagnep.
  127. Capparis trichocarpa B.S.Sun
  128. Capparis trinervia Hook.f. & Thomson
  129. Capparis trisonthiae Srisanga & Chayam.
  130. Capparis umbonata Lindl. - northern wild orange
  131. Capparis urophylla F.Chun
  132. Capparis velutina P.I.Forst.
  133. Capparis versicolor Griff.
  134. Capparis viburnifolia Gagnep.
  135. Capparis viminea Oliv.
  136. Capparis wui B.S.Sun
  137. Capparis yunnanensis Craib & W.W.Sm.
  138. Capparis zeylanica L. (= C. linearis Blanco) – kapchip (Wayuunaiki)[12][13]
  139. Capparis zippeliana Miq.

Formerly placed here[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Capparis L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-03-31. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  2. ^ Tejaswini Petkar; et al. "Antimicrobial Activity of Capparis zeylanica L. and Capparis sepiaria L." Medical and Health Sciences Research Journal: 66–69.
  3. ^ Tejaswini Petkar; et al. "Antimicrobial Activity of Capparis zeylanica L. and Capparis sepiaria L." Medical and Health Sciences Research Journal. 1 (1): 66–69.
  4. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney.
  5. ^ Hébert et al. (2004), Brower et al. (2006)
  6. ^ a b c Kunte, Krushnamegh (2000). India, a Lifescape: Butterflies of Peninsular India. Universities Press. p. 223. ISBN 9788173713545.
  7. ^ Choudhary, Vijay (July 2018). "Description of White orange tip butterfly – Ixias marianne". Nature Conservation. Archived from the original on 2018-07-25.
  8. ^ a b "HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants". Natural History Museum.
  9. ^ "Capparis Tourn. ex L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online.
  10. ^ "Capparis sandwichiana". Plant Collections. United States Botanic Garden. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  11. ^ "Capparis sandwichiana". Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  12. ^ "Capparis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  13. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Capparis". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-11-22.


  • Brower, Andrew V.Z. (2006): Problems with DNA barcodes for species delimitation: ‘ten species’ of Astraptes fulgerator reassessed (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). Systematics and Biodiversity 4(2): 127–132. doi:10.1017/S147720000500191X PDF fulltext
  • Hébert, Paul D.N.; Penton, Erin H.; Burns, John M.; Janzen, Daniel H. & Hallwachs, Winnie (2004): Ten species in one: DNA barcoding reveals cryptic species in the semitropical skipper butterfly Astraptes fulgerator. PNAS 101(41): 14812–14817. doi:10.1073/pnas.0406166101 PDF fulltext Supporting Appendices