Capparis spinosa, the caper bush, also called Flinders rose, is a perennial winter-deciduous plant that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and large white to pinkish-white flowers. The plant is best known for the edible flower buds (capers), often used as a seasoning, and the fruit (caper berry), both of which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits. Other parts of Capparis plants are used in the manufacture of medicines and cosmetics.
Capparis spinosa is native to the Mediterranean, East Africa, Madagascar, south-western and Central Asia, Himalayas, the Pacific Islands, Indomalaya and Australia. It 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 the Mediterranean basin.
Capers can be grown easily from fresh seeds gathered from ripe fruit and planted into well-drained seed-raising mix. Seedlings will appear in two to four 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 cells 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 three to four days after partial removal of the lignified seed coats. 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.
Being flower buds, capers are in fact very low in calories, 23 calories per 100 g. However, the spice contains many phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins essential for optimum health.
Capers are one of the plant sources high in flavonoid compounds rutin (or rutoside) and quercetin. Capers are in-fact very rich source of quarcetin (180 mg/100 g) second only to tea leaf. Both these compounds are powerful anti-oxidants. Research studies suggest that quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Furthermore, rutin strengthen capillaries and inhibits platelet clump formation in the blood vessels. Both these actions of rutin help in smooth circulation of blood in very small vessels. Rutin has found application in some in trial treatments for hemorrhoids, varicose veins and in bleeding conditions such as hemophilia. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals
The spicy buds contain healthy levels of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin, and riboflavin. Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol.
Furthermore, minerals like calcium, iron, and copper are present in them. High sodium levels are because of added granular sea salt (sodium chloride).
Caper parts have been used to relieve rheumatic pain in traditional medicines. The spicy caper pickles traditionally added to recipes as appetite stimulant. In addition, they help relieve stomachache and flatulence conditions.
Read More at Wikipedia