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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Brassicales

Familia: Capparaceae
Genera: AnisocapparisApophyllumAtamisqueaBachmanniaBeautempsiaBelencitaBosciaBuchholziaCadabaCalantheaCaphexandraCapparicordisCapparidastrumCapparisCladostemonColicodendronCratevaCynophallaDhofariaEuadeniaHispaniolanthus – Hypselandra – Maerua – Mesocapparis – Monilicarpa – Morisonia – Neocalyptrocalyx – Neocapparis – Neothorelia – Poilanedora – Preslianthus – Quadrella – Ritchiea – Sarcotoxicum – Steriphoma – Thilachium


Capparaceae Juss. Gen. Pl. 242. (1789) nom. cons.

Type genus: Capparis L. Sp. Pl. 1: 503. (1753)


Capparidaceae Auct.

Note: This is a taxonomic opinion of the family summarised by Cardinal-McTeague et al. (2016), Tamboli et al. (2018) and Hassler et al. (2019). This view is rejected by The Global Flora (2018) and Plants of the World online (2019) who favour Morisonia as the sole New World segregate from Capparis s.l.. However, Cornejo (2018) presents a robust defence of the above circumscription firmly rejecting the opinions of Christenhusz et al. (2018).

Jussieu, A.L. de 1789. Genera Plantarum, 242.
Cardinal-McTeague, W.M., Sytsma, K.J. & Hall, J.C. 2016. Biogeography and diversification of Brassicales: a 103 million year tale. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 99: 204-224. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.02.021 PDF Reference page.
Christenhusz, M.J.M., Fay, M.F. & Byng, J.W. (eds). 2018. The Global Flora, Vol. 4: Special Edition, GLOVAP Nomenclature Part 1. Plant Gateway Ltd., Bradford. ISBN 978-0-9929993-5-3 PDFReference page.
Cornejo, X. 2018. Notes on the nomenclature of neotropical Capparaceae: An answer to Global Flora. Harvard Papers in Botany 23(2): 179-185. DOI: 10.3100/hpib.v23iss2.2018.n3 PDF Reference page.
Cornejo, X. & Iltis, H.H. 2008. Two new genera of Capparaceae: Sarcotoxicum and Mesocapparis stat. nov., and the reinstatement of Neocalyptrocalyx. Harvard Papers in Botany 13(1): 103-117. DOI: 10.3100/1043-4534(2008)13[103:TNGOCS]2.0.CO;2 PDF from ResearchGate Reference page.
Hall, J.C. 2008. Systematics of Capparaceae and Cleomaceae: an evaluation of the generic delimitations of Capparis and Cleome using plastid DNA sequence data. Botany 86(7): 682-696. DOI: 10.1139/B08-026 Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2019. Capparaceae. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2019. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2019 June 8. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Capparaceae in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2019 June 9. Reference page.
Iltis, H.H., Hall, J.C., Cochrane, T.S. & Sytsma, K.J. 2011. Studies in the Cleomaceae I: On the separate recognition of Capparaceae, Cleomaceae, and Brassicaceae. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 98(1): 28–36. DOI: 10.3417/2007017 Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Capparaceae. Published online. Accessed: June 8 2019.
Stevens, P.F. 2001 onwards. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14, July 2017 [and more or less continuously updated since]. Online. Reference page.
Tamboli, A.S., Yadav, P.B., Gothe, A.A., Yadav, S.R. & Govindwar, S.P. 2018. Molecular phylogeny and genetic diversity of genus Capparis (Capparaceae) based on plastid DNA sequences and ISSR markers. Plant Systematics and Evolution 304(2): 205-217. DOI: 10.1007/s00606-017-1466-z Reference page. 2019. Capparaceae. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 9 June 2019.

Vernacular names
беларуская: каперсавыя
català: caparàcies
čeština: kaparovité
Deutsch: Kaperngewächse
English: Caper Family
suomi: kapriskasvit
français: capparacées
日本語: 風蝶木科, フウチョウボク科
македонски: лубеничарки
Nederlands: Kappertjesfamilie
polski: kaparowate
Türkçe: kebereotugiller
中文: 山柑科

The Capparaceae (or Capparidaceae), commonly known as the caper family, are a family of plants in the order Brassicales. As currently circumscribed, the family contains 33 genera and about 700 species. The largest genera are Capparis (about 150 species), Maerua (about 100 species), Boscia (37 species) and Cadaba (30 species).


The Capparaceae have long been considered closely related to and have often been included in the Brassicaceae, the mustard family (APG, 1998), in part because both groups produce glucosinolate (mustard oil) compounds. Subsequent molecular studies[3] support Capparaceae sensu stricto as paraphyletic with respect to the Brassicaceae. However Cleome and several related genera are more closely related to members of the Brassicaceae than to the other Capparaceae. These genera are now either placed in the Brassicaceae (as subfamily Clemoideae) or segregated into the Cleomaceae. Several more genera of the traditional Capparaceae are more closely related to other members of the Brassicales, and the relationships of several more remain unresolved.[4] Based on morphological grounds and supported by molecular studies, the American species traditionally identified as Capparis have been transferred to resurrected generic names. Several new genera have also been recently described.[5]

Based on recent DNA-analysis, the Capparaceae are part of the core Brassicales, and based on limited testing, the following tree represent current insights in its relationship.[6]

core Brassicales


family Gyrostemonaceae

family Pentadiplandraceae

family Tovariaceae

family Capparaceae

family Cleomaceae

family Brassicaceae

family Emblingiaceae


Anisocapparis Cornejo & H.H.Iltis
Apophyllum F.Muell.
Bachmannia Pax
Belencita H.Karst.
Boscia Lam.
Buchholzia Engl.
Cadaba Forssk.
Calanthea (DC.) Miers
Capparicordis Iltis & Cornejo
Capparidastrum (DC.) Hutch.

Capparis L.
Cladostemon A.Braun & Vatke
Colicodendron Mart.
Crateva L.
Cynophalla J.Presl
Dhofaria A.G.Mill.
Dipterygium Decne.
Euadenia Oliv.
Hispaniolanthus Cornejo & H.H.Iltis
Maerua Forssk.
Mesocapparis (Eichl.) Cornejo & H.H.Iltis

Monilicarpa Cornejo & H.H.Iltis
Morisonia L.
Neocalyptrocalyx Hutch.
Neothorelia Gagnep.
Poilanedora Gagnep.
Puccionia Chiov.
Quadrella J.Presl
Ritchiea R.Br. ex G.Don
Sarcotoxicum Cornejo & H.H.Iltis
Steriphoma Spreng.
Thilachium Lour.[7]

Excluded genera

Borthwickia W.W.Sm. → Resedaceae
Cleome L. → Cleomaceae
Cleomella DC. → Cleomaceae
Dactylaena Schrad. ex Schult.f. → Cleomaceae
Forchhammeria Liebm. → Stixaceae
Haptocarpum Ule → Cleomaceae
Koeberlinia Zucc. → Koeberliniaceae
Oxystylis Torr. & Frem. → Cleomaceae
Pentadiplandra Baill. → Pentadiplandraceae
Podandrogyne Ducke → Cleomaceae
Polanisia Raf. → Cleomaceae
Setchellanthus Brandegee → Setchellanthaceae
Stixis Lour. → Stixaceae
Tirania Pierre → Stixaceae
Wislizenia Engelm. → Cleomaceae[8]

Additional genera to be excluded from the Capparaceae, according to Kers in Kubitzki

1. Genera that may be capparalean but do not fit within the Capparaceae

Neothorelia Gagnep.

2. Genera insufficiently known, but whose descriptions indicate they cannot belong to the Capparaceae

Borthwickia W.W.Sm. → Borthwickiaceae[6]
Keithia Spreng.
Poilanedora Gagnep.

3. Genera not treated in Kubitzki, but usually regarded as Capparaceae

Buhsia Bunge
Niebuhria DC.


"Family: Capparaceae Juss., nom. cons". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-12. Archived from the original on 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
(Hall et al., 2002, 2008)
(Hall et al. 2004).
(Cornejo & Iltis 2006, 2008a-e; Iltis & Cornejo, 2007; Hall, 2008).
Su, Jun-Xia; Wang, Wei; Zhang, Li-Bing; Chen, Zhi-Duan (June 2012). "Phylogenetic placement of two enigmatic genera, Borthwickia and Stixis, based on molecular and pollen data, and the description of a new family of Brassicales, Borthwickiaceae" (PDF). Taxon. 61 (3): 601–611. doi:10.1002/tax.613009.
"GRIN Genera of Capparaceae". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 1999-12-16. Retrieved 2011-01-31.

"GRIN genera sometimes placed in Capparaceae". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2000-06-01. Retrieved 2011-01-31.

Further reading

Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2006. New combinations in Capparaceae sensu stricto for Flora of Ecuador. Harvard Pap. Bot. 11(1): 17–18.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008a. Two new genera of Capparaceae: Sarcotoxicum and Mesocapparis stat. nov., and the reinstatement of Neocalyptrocalyx. Harvard Pap. Bot. 13(1): 103-116.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008b. New combinations in South American Capparaceae. Harvard Pap. Bot. 13(1): 117-120.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008c. Anisocapparis y Monilicarpa: dos nuevos géneros de Capparaceae de América del Sur. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 2(1): 61-74.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008d. The reinstatement of Capparidastrum. Harvard Pap. Bot. 13(2): 229-236.
Cornejo, X. & H. H. Iltis. 2008e. A revision of Colicodendron Mart. (Capparaceae s.s.). J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas, 2(1): 75-93.
Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0-89672-614-2
Hall, J. C., K. J. Sytsma and H. H. Iltis. 2002. Phylogeny of Capparaceae and Brassicaceae based on chloroplast sequence data. American Journal of Botany 89: 1826-1842 (abstract here).
Hall, J. C., H. H. Iltis and K. J. Sytsma. 2004. Molecular phylogenetics of core Brassicales, placement of orphan genera Emblingia, Forchhammeria, Tirania, and character evolution. Systematic Botany 29: 654-669 (abstract here).
Hall, J. C. 2008. Systematics of Capparaceae and Cleomaceae: an evaluation of the generic delimitations of Capparis and Cleome using plastid DNA sequence data. Botany 86: 682–696.
Iltis, H. H. & Cornejo, X. 2007. Studies in the Capparaceae XXX. Capparicordis, a new genus from the Neotropics. Brittonia 59: 246–254.
Kers, L. E. 2003. Capparaceae. In: Kubitzki, K. (Series Editor):The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Vol.5: K. Kubitzki & C. Bayer (Volume Editors).Springer-Verlag Berlin, 36-56. ISBN 3-540-42873-9
Takhtajan, A. 1997. Diversity and classification of flowering plants. ISBN 0-231-10098-1

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