Caper Bush

Capparis spinosa, the caper bush, also called Flinders rose, is a perennial plant that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and large white to pinkish-white flowers. Capparis spinosa is native to almost all the circum-Mediterranean countries, and is included in the flora of most of them, but whether it is indigenous to this region is uncertain. The family Capparaceae could have originated in the tropics, and later spread to the Mediterranean basin. The plant also known as Capers, Cabra, caper Bush, Capparis rupestris, caper, Cappero, Caprier, Caprier Épineux, Capre, Caprés, Fabagelle, Himsra.

The shrubby plant is many-branched, with alternate leaves, thick and shiny, round to ovate. The caper bush branches grow longer, they hang over, creating their own mulch along the ground. The flowers, which grow on long petioles between the leaves, are very attractive with white petals and many long purple stamens. Each flower usually lasts only about 16 hours, but there is a continual opening of flowers along the stem. Some species and varieties of Caper bushes develops spines under the leaf axil, but the best varieties are spineless.

Table of Contents


2 - 5 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

3 - 6 feet

Approximate pH

6.0 - 8.5

Growing Caper Bush

How to Grow Caper Bush From Seed

Many gardeners opt to buy a young caper bush from a nursery, as the dormant seeds from the plant are known for being tricky to germinate. If you want to give it a try, begin by soaking the seeds for 24 hours. If the seeds aren't fresh, they will also need a period of cold stratification—the seeds should be kept moist, sealed, and refrigerated for at least a couple of months.

After the stratification process is complete, make sure that you give the seeds an additional 24 hours soaking in warm water before sowing them. The medium you choose to sow the seeds in should be loose, well-draining, and moist. Although germination can start around a month after sowing, it can also take up to three months.

Great care should be taken when transplanting delicate seedlings—they don't take kindly to having their roots disturbed. Overly hot or cold temperatures are also problematic, and seedings should be kept out of direct sunlight or housed indoors during colder temperatures until they're well-established.

Caper Bush Care

Under the right conditions, caper bushes will grow prolifically and won't require a lot of maintenance. They don't need much water and can handle even rocky, nutrient-poor soil, so even novice gardeners (and those with less-than-desirable landscapes) will likely find success with them. Additionally, caper bushes have no serious issues with pests or diseases.


Caper bushes need plenty of direct sunlight to thrive. Plant them somewhere where they can get at least six to eight hours of light a day. If partial shade is the only option in your landscape, aim for a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, which will shield them from the hottest part of the day.


Caper bushes are pretty easy-going when it comes to their soil. They do well in blends of all types, including soil that is low in nutrients, sandy, or especially gravelly. The same goes for the pH level of their soil—acidic, neutral, and alkaline are all fine options. The only necessity caper bushes have is a planting location that is well-draining. The bush hates "wet feet" and will fail to thrive if its soil does not dry out quickly.


Caper bushes have a deep root system and foliage that finds and retain moisture easily. When you first plant them, they will need more frequent watering in order to establish themselves in your landscape. After this, only minimal watering will be necessary and the plant will become drought-tolerant.

Temperature and Humidity

Just like in their native environment, caper bushes will thrive in locations where they can experience dry heat. In very hot regions, the plant can remain evergreen, but it will lose its leaves if temperatures drop significantly in winter. If you experience hot summers but chillier winters, you can consider keeping your bush in a suitably sized container and bring it indoors when the temperatures drop. Caper bushes are only hardy down to around 18 degrees Fahrenheit and will die if exposed to temperatures lower than this.


An established caper bush can thrive in highly infertile soil and won't need additional feeding. However, for the first couple of years, while the plant is still young, feeding with a slow-release fertilizer solution a few times in the spring and summer can be beneficial.

Pruning and Propagating Caper Bush

Pruning Caper Bush

Hard pruning your caper bush each winter will encourage healthy new blooms the following year and help the shrub maintain a tidy shape. For newer young plants, wait several years to prune them as they get established—they should be producing buds for at least two years before you start pruning.

Propagating Caper Bush

Patience, perseverance, and care are required if you plan on trying to grow caper bushes from stem cuttings. Select spring basal cuttings that have a decent number of buds on them—ideally, they should be around 4 inches long. Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone to up the chances of establishment, then plant in soil and keep warm and moist for at least two weeks.

Harvesting Capers

Once your bush is producing well, you'll be able to start harvesting buds during the summer. Make sure any buds you pick are dark green, tight, and at least 1/4-inch wide. Pick them in the morning—they may start to open as the day gets hotter. The buds will then need to be sun-dried before they're brined, salted, or pickled.

Pests and Diseases


  • In the US, you may see weevils, which can be treated by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants.

  • As of this writing, other insect pests that may affect capers are limited to the Mediterranean. Growers in Italy, Malta, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, and Turkey may be bothered by shield bugs such as Bagrada hilaras, which has been also spotted in California and Arizona.

  • A number of species of flies, too, are known to bother plants growing in Italy, Malta, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, Jordan, and Indonesia. For these pests, try fly paper or insecticidal soap to get rid of them.

  • Other pests may include butterfly and moth caterpillars which can be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or beneficial nematodes.


  • These bushes may be troubled by fungal infections, which can be treated with a fungicide.

  • Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) has been known to spread to caper bushes via aphid infestations, but thus far, this has been limited to the Anatolia region of southern Turkey.

Benefits of Capers

Capers enhance flavor without adding significant amounts of calories, fat, or sugar. This makes them an excellent option for people looking to cut calories but still enjoy tasty dishes. Beyond their flavorful and low calorie nature, capers provide a variety of health benefits. Long respected in folk medicine, capers are now prized among food among food scientists for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Other health benefits associated with capers include:

Cancer prevention

When combined with poultry or red meat, capers may help limit the creation of harmful byproducts that have been linked to cell damage and an increased risk of cancer. This health benefit applies even with small amounts of capers. As such, capers are especially beneficial for people who eat diets high in red meat or other sources of saturated fat.

Reduced Risk of Cardiac Arrhythmia

Pickled capers pack high doses of the bioflavonoid quercetin, which plays an important role in the functioning of the KCNQ gene family's potassium ion channels. If dysfunctional, these channels increase the likelihood of someone developing several dangerous health conditions, including arrhythmia of the heart. The quercetin found in capers may trick KCNQ channels into opening, thereby promoting healthier heart activity.

Alzheimer's Disease Prevention

People who regularly consume flavonols such as quercetin are less likely to develop Alzheimer's. This reduced risk may result from natural antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of these flavanols, which limit cellular damage.

Good for Diabetes

Capers are quite beneficial for people suffering from diabetes. Research has shown that Capers have substances which have beneficial effects for people suffering from Diabetes.

Capers help to reduce the high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels and correct the functioning of liver in Diabetic people. Capers reduce the levels of triglycerides in Diabetic people. They also showed no side effects on kidneys and liver.

Good for people aiming for weight loss

If you want to lose excess body weight, you need to maintain a diet low in carbohydrates and calories. You also need to incorporate a diet rich in fiber that helps in making us satiated for a long time.

Capers are a perfect combination of high fiber content and low calories. They are really good for people wanting to shed extra pounds from their body.

Healthy Bones

Capers consist of good amount of Vitamin K that helps to increase the density of your bones. It help to lowers the chances of bone related issues such as osteoporosis, arthritis etc. which happens due to reduction in bone density.

Protects from harmful ultraviolet rays

As we all know that UV rays can even lead to skin cancers like melanoma. Certain compounds in capers have photo protective properties. They protect us from harmful UV rays and reduce the redness or erythema of skin caused by UV rays. Used it frequently to get benefited.

Protects from allergies

Extracts of Capparis Spinosa or capers have also shown anti-allergic effects. Allergies can cause symptoms ranging from mild skin irritation of rash to life-threatening bronchospasm or constriction of bronchus and shortness of breath.

Allergic reaction is cured by certain substances like histamine, mast cells, etc. Capers have substances which have antihistaminic effects and they also control the mast cells which lead to allergic reactions. People suffering from allergies can surely benefit from capers consumption.

Helps in Digestion

Capers are loaded with fiber that helps in weight management and supports digestion. Numerous types of chronic digestion issues like constipation are easily cured on consuming this amazing fruit. It eases the movement of bowel in the body and its elimination from the body.

Moistens Skin

Regular Intake of capers in your diet is considered to be good for your skin. This provides moisture to your skin and gives relief from dryness and other related dry skin problems.

Treats anemia

Anemia is the lack of sufficient hemoglobin in the blood. This leads to excessive tiredness, fatigue if mild and shortness of breath and even heart failure if very severe.

Capers consist of good amount of iron which promotes the formation of hemoglobin in the body and cures anemia. They also have vitamin C which enables the absorption of iron from the alimentary system.

Stronger Teeth

Capers have been an excellent source of various minerals such as iron, copper, calcium and sodium. Calcium is very beneficial for preserving the density of bones and teeth in your body. Consumption of capers keeps your teeth strong and healthy. Problems like tooth decay, broken and brittle teeth, swollen gum and other tooth issues can be easily avoided with regular consumption of this fruit.


Capers are a powerhouse of antioxidants they help to get rid of aging symptoms like wrinkles, fine lines and looseness of skin. These radicals initiate oxidization reaction in the body and destroy the tissues and cells. It throws out harmful elements and toxins from the body to avoid the occurrence of skin disorders.

Good for Eyes

Capers consist of good amount of vitamin A that is considered to be very beneficial for healthy vision. It also helps in treating eye problems and associated cancers.

Get rid of flatulence

Improper digestion leads to excess production of gas in the intestines. This excess gas is released out like flatus. Flatulence can be a really awkward problem. It makes us lose self-confidence when we are out in amongst the people. Capers improve digestion, maintain the health of digestive tract and help us to get rid of flatulence.

Reduces Skin Disorders

Capers are enriched with Vitamin E and antioxidants, capers show calming action towards a wide range of skin disorders like irritation, rashes, acne, redness, pimples and inflammation. Because of this it is one of the special ingredients in variety of skin care and cosmetic products.

Healthy Hair

Capers consist of good amount of Vitamin B and iron which makes it one of the most advantageous fruit for promoting hair growth and prevention of hair loss. Vitamin B is very essential for ensuring adequate and smooth flow of blood in the scalp. This makes hairs roots, hair strands and scalp strong, healthy, shiny and nourished.


Culinary Uses

  • Flower buds are pickled and used as a flavoring in sauces, salads etc.

  • Young fruits and tender branch tips can also be pickled and used as a condiment.

  • Flower buds are harvested in the early morning and wilted before pickling them in white vinegar.

  • Young shoots are cooked and used like asparagus.

  • Unopened flower buds of this shrub are picked and preserved in salt or pickled in vinegar as the culinary capers which are now enjoyed world-wide as garnishes or as pungent flavor additives to a large number of foods including sauces, butters, salads, fish, meats, pizza toppings and hors d’oeuvres.

  • Capers are used to bring flavor in a variety of sauces including remoulade or tartare.

  • They are great when cooked with cheese.

  • Pickled buds used as a flavoring in antipasto salads and as a topping in pizzas.

  • Salted and pickled caper bud (called simply a caper) is often used as a seasoning or garnish.

  • Mature fruit of the caper shrub are prepared similarly and marketed as caper berries.

  • Capers are a distinctive ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially in Sicilian, Aeolian and southern Italian cooking.

  • They are commonly used in salads, pasta salads, meat dishes, and pasta sauces.

  • Capers are known for being one of the ingredients of tartar sauce.

  • They are often served with cold smoked salmon or cured salmon dishes (especially lox and cream cheese).

  • Capers and caper berries are sometimes substituted for olives to garnish a martini.

  • Dried caper leaves are also used as a substitute for rennet in the manufacturing of high-quality cheese.

Other Uses

  • Capers are sometimes used in cosmetics.

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