Capparis spinosa (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Tetracme quadricornis
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Capparis spinosa (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Acanthophyllum borszczowii
Capparis spinosa
Capparis spinosa
Capparis spinosa

Capparis spinosa L.

Local name:

  • Russian: Каперсы колючие, кавар - kapersy koljučie, kavar
  • Uzbek: Kavar

Chromosome numbers: 2n = 24 (Schiller 1928); 2n = 38 (Taylor 1925; Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Perennial shrub (height 1–2 m), prostrate almost spherical. Stem: trailing or ascending, woody, numerous, lower side densely covered with white short hairs. Often with sharp recurved short spines. Leaves: simple (3.5–6.0 cm long, 0.5–4.0 cm wide), mostly ovoid-orbicular, elliptic on short pedicel. Flowers: bisexual; white (5–8 cm diameter), tetra- or pentamerous, without a capsular disc around the floral axis. Sepals sub-equal, fused below to form a distinct tube. Petals white (1.0–2.5 cm long, 0.5–1.5 cm wide) obovate, 4 or numerous stamens, singular, filaments free. Ovary 2- to 8-carpellate, unilocular with numerous ovules. Stigma sessile.

Reproduction: Typical entomophilous plant. Flowering: May–June. Fruit maturation: July– September. Fruit: more and less ellipsoid (3–4 cm long), glabrous, pyriform, fleshy berry, indehiscent or separated into 3–4 valves. Seed: numerous, brownish (2.5–2.8 mm wide), orbicular-elliptic, reniform.

Pastoral importance: Green forage is eaten by sheep and camels. The aboveground organs at the bud stage contain (% DW): protein 36; nitrogen-free extract 37–54; fat 3.3–4.2. The bark of roots contains 1.2% alkaloids.

Economic interest: Used in traditional medicine as a treatment for bronchial asthma and gastric digestive illness. Extract from roots used for hepatitis (liver disease), as well as for mouth disorders and as a green dye. Flower buds are collected for human consumption as pickles in the Mediterranean basin.

Habitat: Occurs on rocky-gravelly soils of slopes, in foothills, on alluvial deposits, channels and rivers banks.

Distribution: Widely distributed in all Mediterranean arid zones, West and Central Asia, Caucasus, Mediterranean region, northern, East and South-west Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.