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a genus of plants of the family Capparidaceae. It includes trees, bushes, or perennial grasses, sometimes with thorns (modified stipules). There are between 250 and 300 known species, primarily tropical and subtropical varieties; they often grow in arid regions.
In the USSR there are two species. The most economically important species in Eurasia is the caperbush (C. spinosa), a perennial subshrub. Its leaves are rounded, with spiny stipules. The flowers are large, white or pale rose, with numerous stamens; the ovary is on a gynophore. The fruit is a pod-shaped berry with a reddish pulp. This species is found primarily in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, and India. In the Soviet Union it grows in the southern Crimea, the Caucasus (except for the mountainous and damp areas), and Middle Asia. The caper-bush is cultivated in Western and Southern Europe, India, the Philippines, North Africa (Morocco), and North America. In the USSR, wild caperbushes are used commercially in the Dagestan ASSR. In Western Europe the variety C. spinosa var. genuina (without thorns) produces between 500 g and 3 kg of fruit from a single plant. The flower buds, young fruits, and the tips of shoots are marinated in vinegar and pickled; they are then used as a condiment for sauces and soups. Ripe fruits are also used in dry form. They contain approximately 18 percent protein. The seeds have up to 30 percent fat, while the buds have 0.32 percent rutin. These plants contain the alkaloid capparidin. They are also nectar-bearing.