Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Capparis spinosa L. var. inermis Tierra.

The species is a frost tender, perennial, evergreen shrub with roundish, leathery leaves and creamy-white flowers in summer.  To 90cm.  Inermis is without the thorns of the type.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘We are happy in having it in our power to lay before our readers a representation of the Caper shrub, whose blossoms are rarely seen in this country, though its flower-buds are in very general use as a pickle; indeed, so great is their consumption, that they form a very considerable article of commerce. […] Miller observes that these plants are with difficulty preserved in England, for they delight to grow in crevices of rocks, and the joints of old walls and ruins, and always thrive best in an horizantal position; so when they are planted either in pots or the full ground, they rarely thrive, though they may be kept alive for many years. […] Mr. Aiton regards it as a green-house plant, and informs us that it was cultivated by Gerard in 1596.’  [BM t.291/1795]. 

‘The Caper shrub.  Capparis.  A common shrub in France and Italy, and kept in our gardens.  The pickles which we know under the name of Capers are made of the buds if the flowers; but the part to be used in medicine is the bark of the roots.  The shrub grows to no great height; the branches are weak, and ill able to support themselves, they are tough and prickly: the leaves stand irregularly, and are of an oval or roundish figure; the thorns are hooked like those of the bramble; the flowers, when fully opened, are purplish and very pretty; the fruit is roundish.  The bark of the root is to be taken in powder, or infusion; it is good against obstructions of the liver and spleen, in the jaundice, and hypochondriac complaints: it is also commended in indigestion.’  [Hill p.63].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.280/1843].  Undoubtedly imported to test its commercial possibilities in Australia.  It would seem that Camden Park at one time produced its own brand of Capers as labels are still in existence.  More research is needed here.


Published Mar 03, 2009 - 04:54 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2010 - 01:52 PM

Illustrated are roundish, leathery leaves, white flowers, unopened buds and seed pods.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.291, 1795.

Capparis spinosa L. var. inermis Tierra. | BM t.291/1795 | BHL

Family Capparaceae
Region of origin

Southern Europe

Common Name

Caper bush

Name in the Camden Park Record

Capparis spinosa, var. inermis - Caper plant 

Confidence level high