Aromatic plants

Caper flower

The caper plant

The caper plant, whose botanical name is capparis spinosa, belongs to the capparaceae family, and is a shrub that is very widespread spontaneously throughout the Mediterranean area. Even in Italy it is not uncommon to see it born even in unthinkable places, on the faces or along the slopes. This happens because lizards and geckos are particularly fond of its seeds, which then spread them along their path. The caper plant stands out for its long branches with rounded and shiny leaves, and above all for its flowers. When they bloom, they have a beautiful white color and long purplish-red stamens; but generally they are picked when they are nothing but buds, to be consumed in the kitchen. Fruits are also used in cooking: they are called cucunci and they look like small cucumbers that are used as an appetizer.

How to grow the caper

The caper plant is not only the source of its tasty flowers, but is very often placed in the garden for purely ornamental purposes. As we said, it is very easy to find it widespread in nature, but it can be planted in a flower bed or in a pot, and does not require much care. The caper has very branched roots that do not need a lot of water, on the contrary, what they fear most is water stagnation. The most important thing to do is to prepare the soil well, with sandy material, digging very deep holes, even 60 centimeters, so that the roots take root well. The seedlings should be planted during the winter, preferably between January and February, and watered regularly but not too abundantly. If the plants are well, a caper can last up to thirty years.

If desired, the caper plant can also be put in pots. The vase should be long and narrow, and it would be better if it was made of terracotta. At the bottom of the pot you must put some draining material and then place everything in a sunny place, because the caper loves mild temperatures (although it grows well even in colder latitudes). In May, the first flowers will appear, which will continue to produce until September. The bud of the caper flower is the part that is collected to be used in the kitchen, but it cannot be eaten as it is. In fact, it should be pickled or salted; but if you want nothing more than to have a beautiful ornamental plant, you can let the caper flower buds open, to obtain an abundant flowering. In the end the fruits will also be produced, whose internal seeds can be used to create other seedlings; otherwise it is possible to proceed with the reproduction by cutting.

Caper flower: The caper flower and its uses

If, on the other hand, you want to collect the buds of the caper flower, they must then be put in salt or brine. In fact, their taste is very sour, if eaten without any kind of preparation. Instead, once flavored in the manner described, they become a widely used ingredient in the kitchen, which goes well with fish or meat dishes. The best known capers are precisely of Italian production, such as the capers of Pantelleria, or even those of Salina. In addition to cooking, the caper is also used for its phytotherapeutic properties, because the bark and roots have diuretic virtues, and it seems that they strengthen blood vessels. The infusion of caper roots and young shoots, on the other hand, is a real cure-all for rheumatism, and finally the extracts of the fruit are adjuvants in the treatment of dermatitis and other skin diseases.

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