Shrub growing to 3 ft (1 m), with spiny trailing stems, fleshy oval leaves, green buds, large white flowers, and red berries in autumn.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to the Mediterranean region, caper thrives in open areas, often growing on stony terrain. The buds are harvested before the flowers open and are pickled for culinary use.
Root bark, bark, flower buds.
Contains phenolic compounds.
History & Folklore
Though much favored as a piquant food by the ancient Greeks, capers were said to disagree with the stomach. They remain a popular condiment to this day.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The unopened flower buds are laxative and, if prepared correctly with vinegar, are thought to ease stomach pain. The bark is bitter and diuretic and can be taken immediately before meals to increase the appetite. The root bark is purifying and stops internal bleeding. It is used to treat skin conditions,
capillary weakness, and easy bruising, and is also used in cosmetic preparations. A decoction of the plant is used to treat yeast and vaginal infections such as candidiasis.
A decoction of the North American C. cynophallophora is taken to encourage the onset of menstruation, and is used as a gargle for throat infections.