Capers by Sol Daniel age 12

The caper plant is a small shrub which is salt and drought resistant, that means it can survive in any type of soil. A caper is the unripened caper plant flower used for cookery and therapeutic purposes. Capers are woody at the base but have weak floppy stems that trail over the ground.

There are two species of caper, spine and spineless. The spine variety has prickles and is usually found in people’s gardens like my granddad’s. There are lots of wild capers in his and he’s been trying to get rid of them for months. The spineless ones are used for harvesting commercially because they have no prickles and it is easier to pick.

The flower is tipped with purple they come out early in the morning but fade by midday. The leaves are small, oval in shape, thick and leathery. It grows to about two feet tall in the wild but if not it usually grows as vines and can grow up to seven to ten feet tall. The plants have a very deep root system that means if they are in your garden and you want to get rid of them it is very very hard.

The buds of capers should be collected by hand early in the morning on dry days. The harvested buds are then put in vinegar solution or under salt in an airtight container. You can eat capers cooked, raw, added to pickles, used in sauces or even medical uses including reduction of flatulence and as an anti-rheumatic. It has been reported to be a diuretic and tonic. The leaves are bruised and applied as a poultice in the treatment of gout.

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