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Caper (Capparis spp.) importance and medicinal usage.


The caper was used in ancient Greece as a carminative. It is represented in archaeological levels in the form of carbonised seeds and rarely as flower buds and fruits from archaic and Classical antiquity contexts. Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae pays a lot of attention to the caper, as do Pliny (NH XIX, XLVIII.163) and Theophrastus [63]. Etymologically, the caper and its relatives in several European tongues can be traced back to Classical Latin capparis, "caper", in turn borrowed from the Greek [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], kapparis, whose origin (as that of the plant) is unknown but is probably Asian. Another theory links kapparis to the name of the island of Cyprus ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Kypros), where capers grow abundantly [64].

In Biblical times, the caper berry was apparently supposed to have aphrodisiac properties; [65] the Hebrew word abiyyonah for caper berry is closely linked to the Hebrew root, meaning "desire" [66]. The word occurs once in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, at verse 12:5. The berries (abiyyonot) were eaten, as appears from their liability to tithes and to the restrictions of the 'Orlah. They are carefully distinguished in the Mishnah and the Talmud from the shoots, temarot, and the floral envelopes, apperisin; and declared to be the fruit of the alef or caper plant. But the caper of present-day commerce, the flower bud, which is now eaten pickled, is not mentioned in the Talmud at all.


A ripe caper fruit ("caper berry")

Owing to ever growing population of the world, every day, a lot of people die from poverty and malnourishment. Under these conditions, approximately 800 million people face problems of poverty, hunger and malnutrition [21] malnutrition in developing countries. Due to this reason, every year more than 12 million children under five years of age die.

Major causes of unproductiveness include climatic change, erosion, desertification, urbanization, industrialization, resulting in the loss of soil and increase unproductiveness from fields.

Given all these factors, the production pattern will change in future on regional and local basis and would result in diversity in crop production

There will be multi purpose benifits from the natural flora or threatend plant species. One of these plants is 'Caparis' that is known by different names in various regions of our country, and often grows in hot and arid climates.(capparis spp.) [16,23] A balanced diet is of major importance. It is very rich in terms of minerals and vitamins. (%24) and contains high high percentage of protein comparable with meat. It also exhibits antioxidant properties, entering the body to prevent harmful effects of carcinogenic substances and also contain cancer precursor cells. It has demonstrated a high adaptability to unfavorable ecological conditions, as a multi-faceted evaluation of products because of the potential of this plant appears to be promising.

This paper describes systematic, morphology, uses, the economic importance of farming and related issues.

Capparis spinosa, the caper bush, is a perennial winter-deciduous species that bears rounded fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. Caper bush is present in almost all the circum-Mediterranean countries and is included in the floristic composition of most of them but whether it is indigenous to this region is uncertain. Although the flora of the Mediterranean region has considerable endemism, the caper bush could have originated in the tropics, and later been naturalized to th Mediterranean basin. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit (caper berry) which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits. Caper plant belong to the family capparidaceae and is known since 7800 years. Capers is known in Turkey since ancient times, and its importance is increasing in recent years. It has center of origin near the eastern Mediterranean and contain six species namely C.spinosa L., C. Ovata Desf, C. Leucophylla DC., C. Mucronifolia boiss., C. Cartillagince Decne and C. Decidua (Forks) Edgew. [43].

Two species are found in Turkey namely (C. Spinossa and C. Ovata). There are three varieties of of each species. These are; C: spinosa var. Spinosa, C. Spinosa var. Inermis tura., C. Spinosa var. Aegyptia(lam) boi, and; C.ovata var. Palaestina Zoh., C ovata var. Herbacea (wild) zoh., C. Ovata var. Canescens. [43]. Usually C. batu varieties are found in southern coastal regions and C. spinosa, in the east and south-eastern Anatolia regions; whereas varieties C. ovata show natural distribution. [37].

Plant and Morphology:

The caper bush (Capparis spinosa L., Capparidaceae) has been introduced as a specialized culture in some European countries during the last four decades. The economic importance of caper plant (young flower buds, known as capers, are greatly favored for seasoning and different parts of the plant are used in the manufacture of medicines and cosmetics) led to a significant increase in both the area under cultivation and production levels during the late 1980s. The main production areas are in harsh environments found in Morocco, the southeastern Iberian Peninsula, Turkey, and the Italian islands of Pantelleria and Salina. This species has developed special mechanisms in order to survive in the Mediterranean conditions, and introduction in semiarid lands may help to prevent the disruption of the equilibrium of those fragile ecosystems [48].

Capparis spinosa is highly variable in nature in its native habitats and is found growing near the closely related species C. sicula, C. orientalis, and C. aegyptia. Scientists can use the known distributions of each species to identify the origin of commercially prepared capers [49,50].

The shrubby plant is many-branched, with alternate leaves, thick and shiny, round to ovate in shape. 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 (Watson and Dallwitz 1992).

The plant grows in form of perenniel shrubs growing to half meters with large number of branched semi-woody structures. For example, C. Spinosa var. inermis and C. Spinosa var has not got stipuller thorn on the rupestris. [8]. It has on average 20 meters deep roots [1]. It is C3 photosynthesis system with leaves, round or oval shaped leaves with dark green colors, dark, straight edges and surface may be hairy [1,16]. plant shrubs in the form of multi-year and a half meters, reaching from one to a plant. The body is a large number of branched semiwoody, thorn spituller has taken the form of some species [8]. For example, C. Spinosa var. inermis and C. Spinosa var has not got stipuller thorn on the rupestris. [10]. It has on average 20 meters deep root pile. [1] c3 photosynthesis system of the plant with leaves, round or oval shapes, colors, dark, straight edges and surface may be hairy. [1,16] annual shoots in a large, showy, white or pink flowers, four leaf dish, four sheets to the crown of a large number of male and one female organs are organs. white male body at the bottom thereof, the right-to-end color is light pink or dark viola. upper-stage ovarian and single eyes. Seeds are Brown. thousand seed weight is 6 grams fat composition is 30%. [32.1].


Mostly used part of the plant is flower bud but fruits, flowers, buds, fruit and shoot tips are also used in the diet but the. flower bud on an international scale is a product that has commercial value. 100 g dry matter contain 67 mg calcium, 65 mg potassium, 9 mg of iron and 1.24 g of protein. [2,5] On the other hand the different organs of the plant contain alkaloids, volatile oils, flavonoids, trpene glicosides, organic acid, glikozinolat, minerals and vitamins. Flavonoids and effects of which are the primary components of medicinal and aromatic glikozinolat. burning as a result of enzymatic hydrolysis of aromatic sulfur compounds feature stems from the generally glikozinotlarin. The most important feature of the product processed flavor buds is aroma. Aroma burner feature is usually caused by sulfur compounds is due to enzymatic hydrolysis glikozinolatlarin [1].


Its exports abroad is usually in the form of brined cans, pickled salads, appetizers, pizza, on top, and is used in the preparation of vegetarian foods, and is eaten as a side dish alongside meat. [1,16]. Buds are usually smaller than 10 mm are used to prepare garnish, sauce and paste and large ones and semi-mature fruits and young leaves of young shoots can also be kept in salamura to make pickles and is an important source of income in animal husbandry as well. [30,42].

The salted and pickled caper bud (also called caper and gabbar for Turkish Cypriots) is often used as a seasoning or garnish. Capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Cypriot, Italian and Maltese. The mature fruit of the caper shrub are also prepared similarly, and marketed as caper berries. The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a fresh kernel of corn. They are picked, then pickled in salt, or a salt and vinegar solution, or drained. Intense flavor is developed, as mustard oil (glucocapparin) is released from each caper bud. This enzymatic reaction also leads to the formation of rutin often seen as crystallized white spots on the surfaces of individual caper buds. Capers are a distinctive ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially in Sicilian and southern Italian cooking. They are commonly used in salads, pasta salads, pizzas, meat dishes and pasta sauces. Examples of uses in Italian cuisine are chicken piccata and salsa puttanesca. Capers are also known for being one of the ingredients of tartar sauce. They are also often served with cold smoked salmon or cured salmon dishes (especially lox and cream cheese). Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable: Non-pareil (up to 7 mm), surfines (7-8 mm), capucines (8-9 mm), capotes (9-11 mm), fines (11-13 mm), and grusas (14+ mm). Unripe nasturtium seeds can be substituted for capers; they have a very similar texture and flavor when pickled. Pickled caper berries are also very popular as a snack in Menorca. If the caper bud is not picked, it flowers and produces a fruit called a caper berry. The fruit can be pickled and then served as a Greek mezzo or garnish. In addition, the Greeks make good use of the caper's leaves, which are especially desirable and hard to find outside of Greece. They are pickled or boiled and preserved in jars with brine like caper buds. Caper leaves are excellent in salads and in fish dishes. Dried caper leaves are also used as a substitute for rennet in the manufacturing of high quality cheese [60].

Nutrition information:
Capers, prepared Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy           96 kJ (23 kcal)

Carbohydrates    5 g
Sugars           0.4 g
Dietary fibre    3 g
Fat              0.9 g
Protein          2 g
Vitamin C        4 mg (7%)
Iron             1.7 mg (14%)
Sodium           2960 mg (129%)

Medicinal usages:

In Greek popular medicine, a herbal tea made of caper root and young shoots is considered to be beneficial against rheumatism. Dioscoride (MM 2.204t) also provides instructions on the use of sprouts, roots, leaves and seeds in the treatment of strangury and inflammation. Different flavonoids were identified in caper bush and capers: rutin (quercetin 3-rutinoside), quercetin 7-rutinoside, quercetin 3-glucoside-7-rhamnoside, kaempferol-3-rutinoside, kaempferol-3-glucoside, and kaempferol-3-rhamnorutinoside. Rutin is a powerful antioxidant bioflavonoid in the body, and is used as a dietary supplement for capillary fragility. Rutin has no known toxicity (Ruth1978). Capers contain more quercetin per weight than any other plant [62].

Caper root bark and leaves may have some anticarcinogenic activity. In fact, the hydrolysis products of indol-3-ylmethyl glucosinolates have anticarcinogenic effects [62]. Although the consumption of capers is low in comparison with the intake of other major dietary sources of glucosinolates (white cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) it may contribute to the daily dose of natural anticarcinogens that reduces cancer risk. Glucosinolates are also known to possess goitrogenic (anti-thyroid) activity. Also, rutin and quercetin may contribute to cancer prevention [17] Selenium, present in capers at high concentrations in comparison with other vegetable products, has also been associated with the prevention of some forms of cancer [63].

Flower buds of the plant contain antioxidants taht inhibit with cancer cells in the body and prevents the damaging effects of carcinogenic substances in the body at the same time. It exhibits antitumor activity in cancer research institute of international studies [3]. The plant extracts from plants are used in the preparation used for lowering blood pressure and has diuretic charachteristics. Its seeds have active ingredients that are used to treat liver, spleen and kidney functions, regulating the treatment of asthma and the discomfort of hemorrhoids and also has aphrodisiac properties. Although the fruit has aphrodisiac properties, it is used in pain relief, and its shells contain various substances to treat the inflammation. [40].

The plant leaves, branches and roots from the hardened extracts are used in cosmetics industry and is considered mush [6,39]. C. flexuosa blume type ex hasssk Venezuela and c. spinosa l. the type of cosmetic products in India from the Mediterranean countries and are used to treat hair diseases, especially in older cells. It is also used in plant perfumes to obtain the desired odor.

Economical importance:

It is an important cultural plant in Italy and Spain [1]. The caper sauce is exported to the world from these countries, Morocco and Turkey. [5] Its flower buds have a high nutritional value as discovered during recent years. It has an essential nutrition products used in Europe and America and has become an important source of income. In Turkey, it is used both as food and sometimes for the treatment of various diseasesIt has. economic importance, but since 1990, it is being exported on a regular basis and has good statistical records. Its export varies according to years in 1990 to the present day from 2-8 thousand tons / year and are exported to the varying amounts of caper buds and 8-14 million dollars / year revenue is obtained. The very small amounts of domestic consumption. economy, which is the subject caper brine with salt, usually 10-20% of the natural flora. [19]. It is usually exported from Izmir, Mersin and Istanbul centers of GBIin form of caper buds both fresh chilled, frozen, acid-free, acid-free temporary canned and frozen products.

According to IGEME of Turkey between the years 1996 -2004, the caper bud exports amounted to 47,703 tons in total of nine years, with total quantity of 5300 tons. Total during the period in question comes from the eilen. 93.8 million U.S. dollars, the average value was U.S. $ 10.4 million, was sold for U.S. $ 1.96 a kg caper. export and export patterns in different ways than the years of the caper buds are different. And the natural flora is found but can not get enough money or no cultivation of plant species brought up.

inefficient due to the high adaptation capability of this caper plants, for example, be produced without the need for arid and arid areas is an important aspect, featuring high nutrition flower buds, fruits and human nutrition and the treatment of young buds, roots used in medicine, is also a very kind of erosion control, land scaping, production and use of cosmetic products in areas such as animal feed in recent years for reasons such as the international market has become important. [23].

The caper bush requires a semiarid climate. Mean annual temperatures in areas under cultivation are over 14[degrees]C and rainfall varies from 200 mm/year in Spain to 460 in Pantelleria and 680 in Salina. In Pantelleria, it rains only 35 mm from May through August, and 84 mm in Salina. A rainy spring and a hot dry summer are considered advantageous [11]. This drought-tolerant perennial plant has favorable influence on the environment and it is utilized for landscaping and reducing erosion along highways, steep rocky slopes, sand dunes or fragile semiarid ecosystems.Harvest duration of at least 3 months is necessary for profitability. Intense daylight and a long growing period are necessary to secure high yields. The caper bush can withstand temperatures over 40[degrees]C in summer but it is sensitive to frost during its vegetative period. The potential exposure of caper hydraulic architecture to cavitations has recently been proposed as an explanation for its susceptibility to freezing conditions. On the other side, caper bush seems to be able to survive low temperatures in the form of stump, as it happens in the foothills of the Alps. Caper plants have been found even 1,000 m above sea-level though they are usually grown at lower altitudes. Some Italian and Argentine plantings can withstand strong winds without problems, due to caper bush decumbent architecture and the coriaceous consistency of the leaves in some populations.

The caper bush is a rupiculous species [53]. It is widespread on rocky areas and is grown on different soil associations, including alfisols, regosols and lithosols. In different Himalayan locations, C. spinosa tolerates both silty clay and sandy, rocky or gravelly surface soils, with less than 1% organic matter. It grows on bare rocks, crevices, cracks and sand dunes in Pakistan, in dry calcareous escarpments of the Adriatic region, in dry coastal ecosystems of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, in transitional zones between the littoral salt marsh and the coastal deserts of the Asian Red Sea coast, in the rocky arid bottoms of the Jordan valley, in calcareous sandstone cliffs at Ramat Aviv, Israel, and in central west and northwest coastal dunes of Australia. It grows spontaneously in wall joints of antique Roman fortresses, on the Wailing Wall, and on the ramparts of the castle of Santa Barbara (Alicante, Spain). Moreover, this bush happens to grow in the foothills of the Southern Alps (Verona, Italy) and is a common species on city walls in Tuscany (Italy) and on bastions of Mdina and Valletta (Malta).Clinging caper plants are dominant on the medieval limestone-made ramparts of Alcudia and the bastions of Palma (Majorca, Spain). This aggressive pioneering has brought about serious problems for the protection of monuments.

The caper bush has developed a series of mechanisms that reduce the impact of high radiation levels, high daily temperature and insufficient soil water during its growing period [54,55]. Caper bush has a curious reaction to sudden increases in humidity--it forms wart-like pock marks across the leaf surface. This appears to be harmless, as the plant quickly adjusts to the new conditions and produces unaffected leaves. It also shows characteristics of a plant adapted to poor soils [56]. This shrub has a high root/shoot ratio and the presence of mycorrhizae serves to maximize the uptake of minerals in poor soils. Different nitrogen-fixing bacterial strains have been isolated from the caper bush rhizosphere playing a role in maintaining high reserves of that growth-limiting element [57].


Capers can be grown easily from fresh seeds gathered from ripe fruit and planted into well drained seed-raising mix. Seedlings will appear in 2-4 weeks. Old, stored seeds enter a state of dormancy and require cold stratification to germinate. The seed of the genus Capparis is bitegmic. The testa is 0.2-0.3 mm thick, with all its cell walls somewhat lignified, some of them with distinct thickening; its tegmen consists of an outer fibrous, lignified layer four to ten-cell thick, with a lignified endotegmen composed of contiguous cuboid cells, with strongly thickened radial walls. Only the mesophyll between exo- and endotegmen is unlignified. Caper seed germination shows a dependence on the integrity of the covering structures. The viable embryos germinate within 3 to 4 days after partial removal of the lignified seed coats [58]. The seed coats and the mucilage surrounding the seeds may be ecological adaptations to avoid water loss and conserve seed viability during the dry season.

Use of stem cuttings avoids high variability in terms of production and quality. Nevertheless, plants grown from cuttings are more susceptible to drought during the first years after planting. Caper bush is a difficult-to-root woody species and successful propagation requires careful consideration of biotypes and seasonal and environmental parameters. Rooting percentages up to 55 are possible when using one-year-old wood, depending on cutting harvest time and substrate utilized. Propagation from stem cuttings is the standard method for growing 'Mallorquina' and 'Italiana' in Spain, and 'Nocella' in Salina. Hardwood cuttings vary in length from 15 to 50 cm and diameter of the cuttings may range from 1 to 2.5 cm. Another possibility is to collect stems during February through the beginning of March, treat them with captan or captafol and stratify them outdoors or in a chamber at 3-4 [degrees]C, covered with sand or plastic. Moisture content and drainage should be carefully monitored and maintained until planting. Using semi-hardwood cuttings, collected and planted during August and September, low survival rates (under 30%) have been achieved. Softwood cuttings are prepared in April from 25- to 30-day shoots. Each cutting should contain at least two nodes and be six to ten centimeter long. Basal or sub terminal cuttings are more successful than terminal ones. Then, cuttings are planted in a greenhouse under a mist system with bottom heat; 150 to 200 cuttings/m2 may be planted.

Result and conclusion:

Today, to increase the diversity of plant production increased efforts, but never enough to take advantage of the natural flora, or plant types of farming brought

For example, the caper plant, the high adaptation inefficient due to property, arid and arid areas maintenance-free agriculture is an important feature of high nutritional flower buds, fruits and young shoots human nutrition and the treatment of the roots, used in medicine, as well as many types of erosion control, landscaping, cosmetics and animal production benefit in such areas as nutrition, such as importance in recent years due to the international market gained. At the same time, such as tissue culture, new studies are ongoing


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[67.] Though, as the Jewish Encyclopedia points out, the female form abiyyonah should strictly mean "the desiring thing", rather than "desire" itself.

Mohammad sharrif moghaddasi, Islamic Azad university/saveh branch Iran,

Mohammad sharrif moghaddasi: Caper (Capparis spp.) importance and Medicinal Usage

Corresponding Author

Mohammad sharrif moghaddasi, Islamic Azad university/saveh branch Iran,

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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Moghaddasi, Mohammad Sharrif
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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