Flora of Israel – Caper

Whether growing in the cracks of the Western Wall or in the Judean desert, in places like Ein Gedi, people are surprised when I point out this bush and they learn that it is a caper bush (Capparis spinosa) and that the flower buds are the capers that they’ve eaten pickled in salads or with salmon. The caper is a perennial winter-deciduous plant that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and large white to pinkish-white flowers.

Caper

The flowers are complete, sweetly fragrant, showy, with four sepals, and four white to pinkish-white petals, many long violet-colored stamens, and a single stigma usually rising well above the stamens. The caper flower is the emblem of Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve. The caper plant is a citizen of the world, native to the Mediterranean, East Africa, Madagascar, south-western and Central Asia, Himalayas, the Pacific Islands, Indomalaya and Australia.

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7 thoughts on “Flora of Israel – Caper

  1. gottlieb.bob@gmail.com

    Beautiful photo. As you suggest, I had no idea what a caper plant looked like. It’s gorgeous . . . and tastes wonderful. I wonder, however, whether one can eat fresh capers or only pickeled?

    Reply
  2. baruchsienna

    Beautiful photo. I would only add that the caper plant also appears numerous times in Talmudic literature although not in the Bible. The name Tzelophechad (the story of his 5 daughters appears in the book of Numbers) means sharp caper. The name Tzalaf appears in Nehemiah 3:30. The Talmud relates of a bush that miraculously grew to repair a breach in the fence of a Shabbat observer. Because the caper grows in harsh conditions and is virtually impossible to destroy the rabbis saw it as a symbol of Israel among the nations (Beitzah 25b). Material adapted from The Natural Bible.

    Reply
  3. Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

    Nice! Our caper’s scientific name was changed to Capparis zoharyi. BTW the range you mention is too large, in some areas it is invasive and brought by man. The historical Capparis spinosa was split into a few local species (like Capparis zoharyi of the eastern Mediterranean).

    Reply
  4. Pingback: links to the land | preachersmith

  5. Pingback: Flowers of Israel – Mandrake | Israel Tour Guide | Israel Tours

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