Capparis fascicularis

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Zigzag caper-bush
Capparis fascicularis var fascicularis Athlone 04 11 2010.JPG
Capparis fascicularis var. fascicularis
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Capparaceae
Genus: Capparis
C. fascicularis
Binomial name
Capparis fascicularis
  • Capparis flanaganii Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915)
  • Capparis rudatisii Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915)
  • Capparis transvaalensis Schinz (1912)
  • Capparis calvescens Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915) not Gilg & Benedict!
  • Capparis somalensis Gilg (1895)
  • Capparis rothii Oliv. (1868)
  • Capparis jodotricha Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915)
  • Capparis oliveriana Gilg
  • Capparis schlechteri Schinz (1912)
  • Capparis solanoides Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915) not Gilg & Benedict!
  • Capparis marlothii Gilg & Gilg-Ben. (1915) not Gilg & Benedict![1]

Capparis fascicularis, the zigzag caper-bush,[2] is a plant in the Capparaceae family and is native to Africa.

Flowers of Capparis fascicularis var. zeyheri
Portion of a mature stem of C. f. var. zeyheri showing paired spines


This species has multiple synonyms. The species is said to comprise three varieties, but four are listed:[1]

  • Capparis fascicularis DC. var. fascicularis (1824)
  • Capparis fascicularis var. zeyheri (Turcz.) Toelken (1824)
  • Capparis fascicularis var. elaeagnoides (Gilg) DeWolf (1824)
  • Capparis fascicularis var. scheffleri (Gilg & Gilg-Ben.) DeWolf (1824)

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Occurs from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, through KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga,[3] Limpopo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.[4] The range extends further to East Africa, Ethiopia, and across northern Nigeria, Niger and the Gambia.[5] This species generally occurs in deciduous bushland and thickets, grassland with scattered trees, upland dry evergreen and riverine forest, and sometimes on termite-mounds.[1] Var. fascicularis is found in dry bushveld[2] or dry deciduous woodland in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.[6] Var. zeyheri is found in forest, bushveld and woodland near the coast in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, South Africa.[2] Var. elaeagnoides is found in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and the Gambia.[7]


A scrambling shrub or climber, usually with hooked spines on the stem.[3] Two varieties are known in South Africa; var. fascicularis (zigzag caper-bush) and var. zeyheri (coast zigzag caper-bush).[2] The most notable difference between these two varieties is that var. fascicularis has indented (notched[2]) leaf-tips whereas var. zeyheri has pointed leaf-tips. The spines on the coast zigzag caper-bush are usually reduced or absent.[2][3] The fragrant flowers are whitish[2] and produced on leafless side branchlets which resemble spikes or racemes.[8] The fruit are spherical and 6–15 mm in diameter, ripening to purple-black.[8]

Larvae of Belenois creona on leaf of Capparis fascicularis var. zeyheri

Human uses[edit]

The leaves are sold as food in markets of northern Nigeria.[5]

Ecological significance[edit]

Belenois creona (left) and Eronia cleodora (right); raised on C. fascicularis var. zeyheri

Capparis fascicularis is the larval foodplant of the butterflies Belenois creona and Eronia cleodora.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques Ville de Geneve: SANBI African Plant Database:, retrieved 25 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Boon, R. (2010). Pooley's Trees of Eastern South Africa; A Complete Guide. ISBN 978-0-620-46019-4.
  3. ^ a b c Pooley, E. (1993). The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei. ISBN 0-620-17697-0.
  4. ^ Flora of Zimbabwe: Capparis fascicularis DC. var. fascicularis:, retrieved 24 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b Burkill, H.M. (1985). The useful plants of west tropical Africa, Vol 1.
  6. ^ Hyde, M.A. & Wursten, B. (2011). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Capparis fascicularis var. fascicularis., retrieved 25 February 2011
  7. ^ Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques Ville de Geneve: SANBI African Plant Database:, retrieved 25 February 2011.
  8. ^ a b Hyde, M.A. & Wursten, B. (2011). Flora of Mozambique: Species information: Capparis fascicularis var. fascicularis., retrieved 2 March 2011
  9. ^ Williams, M. (1994). Butterflies of Southern Africa; A Field Guide. ISBN 1-86812-516-5.