Capers also known as caper berry are immature flower buds of Capparius spinosa. They are small shrubs, reach 1 meter height, leaf stipules are transformed into spines, flowers are borne on first year branches, they are white with long conspicuum tassels of purple stamens. The flowers open in the morning and close by sunset.
ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION
It is a native of Mediterranean from Canary Islands and Morocco to Crimea and Armenia. It is cultivated in Armenia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cyprus, Spain, Italy and Iran. Dry heat and intense sunlight provide the preferred environment for caper plants. It survives temperatures of 40 degree C and in an area with 350 mm annual precipitation. It also survives at temperature up to –8 degree C. It grows well in nutrient poor, sharply drained gravelly soils. They are salt tolerant and have an extensive root system for deep penetration.
The flower buds, semi mature fruits and young shoots with small leaves are pickled for use as a spice. It gives flavour, aroma and saltiness to Pasta sauces, pizza, fish, meats and salads. It is reduces flatulence and anti-rheumatic. It helps to improve liver function and used against arteriosclerosis, as diuretic, vermifuges and tonics. It has anti-oxidant property. Caper extracts and pulp are used in cosmetics.