Capparis umbonata

Distribution Map
Family: Capparaceae
Distribution: North Western Australia, Northern Territory and North Queensland, in open forests and woodland.
Common Name: Native pomegranate, wild orange.
Derivation of Name: Capparis....from Greek, kapparis, an ancient name for the "caper", the pickled buds of C.spinosa.
umbonata; umbonate - having a conical or rounded, boss-like stigma..
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

The genus Capparis is well known through the exotic species C.spinosa. The pickled buds of that species are "capers" which are widely used as a food flavouring. There are about 250 species in the genus with approximately 16 native to Australia. The fruits of many of the species were important to Aborigines as a food.

Capparis umbonata
Capparis umbonata
Photo: Keith Townsend

Capparis umbonata is a shrub or small tree 3-7 metres high, with dark, rough bark and younger branches bearing curved spines and hairs. Leaves are alternate, leathery and very drooping, tapering toward the base, 10-20cm x 3-4cm. They are dull green in colour and have a prominent mid-rib.

Flowers are held upright in contrast to the drooping leaves and are usually snowy white with numerous protruding stamens. Large globular fruit to about 4cm diameter are yellow to red when ripe and are carried on a long stalk which has a conspicuous bump in the mid section. Aborigines ate the fruit and used infusions from the bark for a number of medicinal purposes.

This species is very drought resistant and should be suitable for gardens in dry climates. It is reported to tolerate a range of well-drained soils.

Plants can be propagated from seed which does not require any pretreatment.

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