Taxon Details: Capparaceae
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Capparaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Primary Citation:

Gen. Pl. (Jussieu) 242-243. 1789
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.
Common Names:

Caper Family

Author: Xavier Cornejo

Type genus: Capparis L.

Description: Shrubs or trees, sometimes lianas, unarmed, glabrous or pubescent with simple, unicellular or uniseriate hairs, sometimes glandular, stellate, echinate or peltate-lepidote. Leaves usually evergreen, simple, rarely palmately 3-foliolate (Crateva), alternate, usually spiral or distichous, rarely opposite, entire, pinnately-veined, often coriaceous, subsessile to petiolate; petioles lacking pulvini or pulvinate at one or both ends; stipules minute or lacking. Inflorescences racemose or corymbose, terminal and/or lateral, unbranched or often several compounded into terminal corymbose panicles, or flowers solitary in leaf axils; floral bracts present, highly reduced, deciduous. Flowers hypogynous, usually bisexual, sometimes cyclically unisexual, usually zygomorphic, rarely actinomorphic. Calyx aestivation open or closed, the sepals 4 (to 7 in Crateva), valvate, imbricate, decussate, with the lobes free, adnate, connate or totally fused, or the calyx bilabiate or spathaceous (Belencita). Corolla aestivation open or closed, the petals 4, imbricate or torsivae, rarely valvate (Calanthea), free, sessile or clawed, equal and cruciform. Stamens (4-)6-250(or more), as long as the petals to exserted above the petals, some sometimes shorter than the petals in dimorphic taxa, borne on a short to elongate androgynophore; anthers usually basifixed, introrse, longitudinally dehiscent; staminodia sometimes present. Hypanthium present or absent, the receptacle often more or less flat to conical, with 4 glands, scales or appendages, or with a nectariferous disk to bowl coating the hypanthium within. Ovary 2-4-carpellate, 1-4-locular with parietal placentation, or 2-8 "locular" with spurious septa from parietal placentas, superior, sessile or usually borne on a short to elongated gynophore; style usually absent, the stigma 1, sessile, usually truncate and hemispherical to capitate (bilobed to undifferentiated only in Atamisquea); ovules few to many, anatropous to campylotropous. Fruits subsessile to long-stipitate on a elongate gynophore, usually more or less fleshy, 1-locular, linear-cylindric to oblongoid or globose, dehiscent or indehiscent, capsular (2-4-valved), pepos, amphisarca or pseudoamphisarca; inner fruit wall (endocarp) often producing fleshy pulp surrounding arillate or the fiber-infiltratred, sarcotesta-covered seeds. Seeds 1 to usually many per fruit, usually cochleate to ± reniform, laterally somewhat compressed, with the testa invagination very short or shallow, barely if at all invaginated between the radicle and cotyledons, the testa hard, brittle, or very thin, the embryo white to cream, yellow or green, curved to almost straight, basically cochleate-reniform and incumbent, but usually with the cotyledons variously conduplicated and little to abundantly folded into each other and around the radicle; or the seeds subglobose and strongly anisocotylar, the major cotyledon massive, compact, specialized for store starches and the minor cotyledon reduced or even absent (Anisocapparis).

Distribution: This family is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, with a few temperate-zone species, these mostly in arid climates. In America it ranges from southern United States (Texas and southern Florida) to northern Argentina, and the West Indies.

Number of genera and species: In America this family comprises ca. 17 genera and ca. 120 species (Cornejo, unpublished).

Taxonomic notes: Capparaceae has been included in Brassicaceae s.l. (APG, 1998). Subsequent molecular studies (Hall et al., 2002, 2008) strongly support that Capparaceae s.s. must be considered a separate family.

Flora and Monograph Treatment(s):

Capparaceae: [Book] Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.