Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some of the Best Bush Tucker

Capparis sarmentosa
All our native caper species have edible fruit, but these take out the prize for flavour.

They are full of black seeds embedded in sweet flesh. The seeds can be swallowed, as with passionfruit, or spat out according to your personal preference.

The plant they grow on is called scrambling caper, and is a prickly little vine which clings to tree trunks in its native dry rainforest habitat. It is rather slow-growing at first In a garden it would be best planted close to the trunk of a tree, where the interesting geometry of its network of tiny, fine-leafed stems can be best appreciated. It could also be led up a wooden fence or shaded masonry wall, where it would certainly help keep a property secure from intruders!

The  capers used in cooking are not fruits at all. They are pickled flower-buds, from Capparis spinosa, a shrub native to the Mediterranean region. No doubt buds of this species could be used in the same way - but it seems a pity not to leave the plants for their pretty spring flowers and the fruits that follow.
Like all our native capers, this species is guaranteed to attract native butterflies, whose caterpillars live on the leaves.
This is a drought hardy plant, with a preference for growing in partial shade
(for more on this species see Sep 2009)

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