The caper (Capparis spinosa L., 1753) is a small shrub with prostrate or suffrutice branched-hanging. The plant will consume the buds, known as cappers, and more rarely the fruit, known as cucunci. Both are preserved in oil, pickled or salted.It is a herbal plant.
The habit is cespitosa, with woody stem and branches now branched only at the base, often very long, first erect, then sliding or falling.
The leaves are alternate and stalked, and subrotonda leaf margin entire, glabrous or finely hairy, meaty consistency. The name given to the species is due to the base of the stalk, two stipules transformed into spines. In the variety inermis, the most common are the grass and stipules falling early.
The flowers are solitary, axillary, long stalked, eye-catching. Calyx and corolla are tetramers, which consist of 4 green sepals and 4 white petals. The androecium consists of numerous stamens purple-red, fitted with very long filaments. The ovary is super, with sessile stigma.
The fruit is a capsule oblong and green, spindle-shaped, carried by a 2-3 cm peduncle, fusiform, fleshy pulp with a pinkish color. It contains many seeds reniform, blacks or yellowish, 1-2 mm in size. At maturity begins with a longitudinal slot. The fruits are commonly called cucunci or cocunci.
According to the Cronquist system the Capparaceae family belongs to the order of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group Capparales and assigns the order of Brassicales.
The plant goes dormant during the cold months. In the middle of spring takes over the development of foliage and blooms in May and June. Flowering continues during the summer in wet conditions in late summer and again in favor of intensity to decrease progressively with the arrival of autumn.
The caper is cultivated since ancient times, has spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. It comes naturally only on calcareous substrates: in its natural environment grows on limestone cliffs, the cliffs, on old walls, often forming clumps with drooping branches several feet too long. It is a plant eliofila xerophilous and with very limited water requirements.
Although a plant rupicola, capers benefits from irrigated crop in the ground and has a slightly more lush growth, producing flowers from May to October. It spreads by seed or cuttings instead.
The cutting is done in the summer, taking a 70-10 cm piece of a woody branch of 2-3 years of age, and then place it in a box filled with peat and sand. To promote rooting recommended the use of rooting powders. Formed roots, the plants are taken and possessed individually in pots of about 10 cm in diameter.
Propagation by seed is difficult because the seed germination is very low (5-10%) but this may increase if the sowing is done during the winter months (December-January). It is sown in boxes, filled with peat and sand, left outdoors in summer and sheltered in the autumn-winter. The following spring the new plant can be transplanted directly into soil or alone in a vase. The seed can also be done directly through openings in the walls to dry in the sun well into autumn. It should, however, put the seeds in a handful of moss that will protect the seed during the winter and the damp earth, no other solution: put the seeds in a ripe fig, the fig tree, then inserting it into the wall. The plants will be born around May-June.
The aromatic properties are contained in the buds of the flower, commonly called capers. Used in cooking for thousands of years, we still collect and keep in closed soaking in salt or vinegar. Capers are usually used to flavor dishes, and go well with a variety of foods, from meat, fish, pasta.
The fruit, similar but more delicate flavor of the caper, that is Cucunci, cocuncio or capers and is sold in salt, oil or vinegar. It is traditionally used in local cuisine to flavor fish dishes. The Aeolian also used to desalinate cucunci or capers and eat like any vegetable, usually in a salad.
In the field of culinary young leaves are also used as a salad after cooking for a few minutes in boiling water.
Capers contain more quercetin in relation to weight than any other herbal pianta.In the root bark is used. The active ingredients have diuretic properties and protective of blood vessels. It can be used to treat gout, hemorrhoids, varicose veins. An infusion made from young shoots and roots of the caper was used in folk medicine to relieve rheumatism. Recently it was found in extracts of Capparis dried fruit (especially if associated with Olea europea, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Ribes nigrum) skin antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine-like, which is valid in dermatopatie allergic.
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The herbal medicine is an ancient art that deals with the knowledge of plants (herbs, medicinal plants, herbs, and spices), their cultivation, harvesting, storage and sale for medicinal purposes...