Latin name: Capparis spinosa
Family: Capparidaceae (Caper Family)
Medicinal use of Caper:The root-bark is analgesic, anthelmintic, antihaemorrhoidal, aperient, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, tonic and vasoconstrictive. It is used internally in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections, diarrhoea, gout and rheumatism. Externally, it is used to treat skin conditions, capillary weakness and easy bruising. The bark is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The stem bark is bitter and diuretic. If taken before meals it will increase the appetite. The unopened flower buds are laxative. They are used internally in the treatment of coughs, and externally to treat eye infections. The buds are a rich source of compounds known as aldose-reductose inhibitors - it has been shown that these compounds are effective in preventing the formation of cataracts. The buds are harvested before the flowers open and can be pickled for later use - when prepared correctly they are said to ease stomach pain. A decoction of the plant is used to treat vaginal thrush. The leaves are bruised and applied as a poultice in the treatment of gout.
Description of the plant:
(3 1/4 foot)
Habitat of the herb:On rocks, affecting the hottest localities, to 3600 metres in the Himalayas. Old walls, cliffs and rocky hillsides in the Mediterranean.
Edible parts of Caper:The flower buds are pickled and used as a flavouring in sauces, salads etc. The young fruits and tender branch tips can also be pickled and used as a condiment. The flower buds are harvested in the early morning and wilted before pickling them in white vinegar. Young shoots - cooked and used like asparagus.
Other uses of the herb:An extract of the root is used as a cosmetic and is particularly useful in treating rose-coloured rashes and capillary weaknesses.
Propagation of Caper:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle. Grow on the young plants for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in sand in a cold frame.
Cultivation of the herb:On rocks, affecting the hottest localities, to 3600 metres in the Himalayas. Old walls, cliffs and rocky hillsides in the Mediterranean.
Known hazards of Capparis spinosa:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.