Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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A small tree or shrub of coastal hammocks and shell mounds from Brevard and Pinellas Counties south, plus Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America.
The distinctive flowers are white, becoming pink with age, with very long stamens. They mostly bloom in the evenings during spring and summer in clusters at the end of branches.
The alternate leaves are entire, elliptic to oblong, shiny green above with brown scurfy scales underneath. Leaf size is highly variable from 1.5 - 3.5 cm (2/3 - 1-1/3 in.) wide to 5 to 10 cm (2 - 4 in.) long and sometimes longer and narrower on seedlings.
The fruit is a cylindrical pod 10 - 30 cm (4 - 12 in.) long and constricted between the seeds. When mature the pods split open to reveal the shiny brown seeds embedded in red sticky pulp.
The buds and seeds from the two Florida Capparis species are not palatable to humans. Culinary capers are the pickled unopened flower buds of C. spinosa, the Mediterranean caper tree.