This morning as I sat eating my breakfast of eggs and cold smoked salmon with capers I started wondering, "What exactly are capers?" I absolutely love them and wanted to know more about them. That led me to do this search. I found it very interesting and hope you will too.
A caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a biennial spiny shrub that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits.
Capparis spinosaLinnaeus, 1753
In Greek popular medicine a herbal tea made of caper root and young shoots is considered to be beneficial against rheumatism. Dioscoride (MM 2.204t) also provides instructions on the use of sprouts, roots, leaves and seeds in the treatment of strangury and inflammation.
The caper was used in ancient Greece as a carminative. It is represented in archaeological levels in the form of carbonised seeds and rarely as flowerbuds and fruits from archaic and Classical antiquity contexts. Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae pays a lot of attention to the caper, as do Pliny (NH XIX, XLVIII.163) and Theophrastus.
The caper-berry is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes as "avionah" according to modern interpretation of the word.