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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Capparaceae

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Brassicales

Sixteen genera and 480 species (warm and tropical regions of the world), of which eight genera and 46 species are native to southern Africa and an additional genus and two species are cultivated in the region. Cleome has previously been placed in the Capparaceae but is here placed in the Cleomaceae. In some classifications, members of the Capparaceae and Cleomaceae are placed under the Brassicaceae.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Dreyer and Jordaan (2000).


One species: Bachmannia woodii, occurring in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.  



There are 37 species (Africa and Arabian Peninsula), of which 10 are native to southern Africa.



Thirty species (Old World tropics), of which five are native to southern Africa.



About 250 species (tropics and subtropics worldwide), of which seven are native to southern Africa and an additional species is cultivated in the region. Capers are the unopened buds of Capparis spinosa (Caper bush). This species is native to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region and has not been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.



One species: Cladostemon kirkii (Tonga kierie), native to Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and Zimbabwe. See Flora of Zimbabwe.  



About 100 species (tropical Asia, India and Africa), of which 20 species are native to southern Africa.



Thirty species in tropical Africa, of which one is native to southern Africa: Ritchiea albersii, recorded from Zimbabwe. See Flora of Zimbabwe.   



About 10 species (east coast of Africa, and Madagascar), of which one, Thilachium africanum, is native to southern Africa (Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland). See Flora of Zimbabwe.


Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Information from Glen (2002).

Crateva religiosa (Barna)

Native from tropical Africa to Polynesia



  • Dreyer, L.L. & Jordaan, M. 2000a. Capparaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 204-206. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.