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Caper: characteristics and cultivation


There Capparis plant spinosa is the caper plant, from which we get those flower buds that we use in many recipes to give flavor. The flowering period of Capparis it is late spring when the first shoots begin to appear and continue throughout the summer season.

Caper: where it grows

Capparis it is the name of a genus of plants and not of a single species, in fact there are over 350 including the one mentioned Thorny, typical of Mediterranean areas like ours and very popular because of its more than edible buds.

The areas in which it grows more easily are many and are all or almost all around our sea. We find it in fact in some Countries of Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia) and in some of Asia Minor such as Cyprus and Iran. Capparis is also very present in our continent, in particular in Spain (Almeria, Granada and the Balearic Islands), France (Provence), Greece and Dalmatia. Obviously it also grows well in Italy, the most favorable areas are Sicily, the islands of Salina and the island of Pantelleria.

Caper: characteristics

This plant is equipped with a base from woody texture, from which new shoots start every year which however remain herbaceous, do not lignify, and which dry up at the end of the summer and then sprout the following year.

The typical places to go in search of Capparis are the dry stone walls, or the rocks, where there are cracks, even in the same islands of Pantelleria and Salina this tendency of the plant to grow in the most hidden and inaccessible places can occur. However, there is a reason, which is certainly not shyness but the spirit of survival. Some spiders and lizards go in search of its fruits, ingest them including seeds and then expel them almost whole by defecating and thus allowing these plants to sprout in the most unthinkable places.

The stem of the Capparis can measure up to half a meter, whether it is climbing or not, and is covered with rounded, heart-shaped leaves attached with a very small one. Let's move on to caper flowers which are pinkish white and hermaphrodite. They are composed of four oval petals and in the center they have numerous stamens of intense pink color, the pistil is instead carried by a very long peduncle.

It is about large flowers compared to the rest of the plant, they can have a diameter of up to 5 centimeters and certainly catch the eye, starting from the month of May which is the month in which the plant blooms and continues throughout the summer, especially if the climate is quite humid . From the flower originates the fruit which is a berry with many small seeds kept inside.

So far we have talked about the Capparis Spinosa but there is also another interesting species to describe, the Capparis ovata whose common name is hairy caper. It grows mainly in the southern regions of Italy and has very hairy leaves, especially when they are young.

Caper: cultivation

The most suitable areas for growth are the sunny ones, facing south and sheltered from the wind, especially if it is cold. It can also be born and develop on rock and among stones, so it has no particular demands when it comes to the ground, it also resists well to drought and wind, thanks to a very robust root system able to "cling" to the ground in a stubborn way. If we can choose the soil where to grow this plant, it is better to be loose and well drained, we also take into account that the Capparis is bred in dry farming, without the addition of irrigation water.

As for fertilization, it must be carried out every year, towards the end of winter, between January and February, using an equally balanced product in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Pruning must be carried out at the end of winter, intervening to cut only the dry wood and the suckers, thus eliminating all the branches that grow luxuriantly but without producing fruit, thus sucking vital sap, uselessly. When pruning the plant, many branches of about half a centimeter should be left because the caper blooms only on the branches issued during the year. Let's also remember that you start pruning after the completion of the second year.

Caper: capereto

To breed this plant we can also make a small caper making sure we have the soil available to house the plant by digging about 50-60 cm. As we have seen, the roots of the caper are able to penetrate a lot into the soil. Before communicating, a good basic fertilization must be carried out, mainly based on potassium oxide, then around January you can start planting the cultivation, it is the best time because the soil is still very humid and suitable for rooting young seedlings.

Each plant of Capparis it should be positioned at a depth of about 35 cm, pruning the roots and the aerial part up to 3 cm above the collar of the plant. We carry out two to three irrigations during the first year of planting, then production will start.

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Video: Caper (May 2021).