In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Characters of Capparidaceae 2. Distributions of Capparidaceae 3. Economic Importance 4. Affinities 5. Important Types.
Characters of Capparidaceae:
Stipules spiny, flowers actinomorphic rarely zygomorphic, hermaphrodite, hypogynous, gynophore present; calyx polysepalous, corolla polypetalous; stamens 4 to numerous; carpels two, ovary superior, parietal placentation.
A. Vegetative characters:
There is a great variation in habit of the plants, may be herbs (Cleome), shrubs (Capparis) or trees (Crataeva). Several plants are extreme xerophytes with reduced leaves or leaves entirely absent in adult plant (Capparis aphylla). Unlike the Papaveraceae there is no latex in the stem.
Branched tap root.
Herbaceous or woody, solid, branched, spinous and cylindrical.
Alternate, simple or palmately compound, with stipules, the latter may be modified into spines or glands. In some cases e.g., Capparis aphylla, the leaves are suppressed and adult plant may be without leaves.
Raceme (Cleome), corymb (Maerua, Capparis aphylla), solitary (Niebuhria).
B. Floral characters:
Bracteate, actinomorphic sometimes zygomorphic (Capparis aphylla), hermaphrodite, bracteoles absent; hypogynous, pedicellate, tetramerous. The internode between the petals and stamens is elongated to form androphore or that between the stamens and carpels elongated of form gynophore.
Sepals 4, usually arranged in two whorls (2 + 2); polysepalous imbricate aestivation and inferior. In Capparis aphylla the sepals are unequal and the hinder sepals forms a hood-like structure.
Petals 4, polypetalous with long claws; imbricate (Cleome) or valvate (Crataeva) aestivation, inferior. In the Australian genus Emblingia the petals are fused.
Stamens numerous to four. In Capparis and Crataeva there are numerous stamens. In Cleome gynandra only six stamens are present; in Cleome tetrandra there are only four stamens. Cleome spinosa has six stamens and its floral structure is remarkably similar to that of the Brassicaceae excepting that they are not tetradynamous.
In Cleome gynandra (Gynandropsis) both androphore and gynophore are present. In Capparis there is only gynophore. In Cleome the gynophore is very small or reduced.
Carpels 2 or sometimes four, syncarpous, seated on a long gynophore or sessile; ovary superior, unilocular with parietal placentation; ovules many on each placentum; style short or absent, stigma capitate or depressed.
A siliqua (Cleome) or berry (Capparis) or drupe (Roydsia).
Usually kidney shaped, ex-albuminous and embryo curved.
Usually entomophilous; dichogamy in some cases.
Distribution of Capparidaceae:
It is commonly called Caper family. The family consists of 45 genera and 700 species according to Pax and Hoffman. In India it is represented by 65 species. The plants are distributed in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate zones of both the hemispheres.
Economic Importance of Capparidaceae:
The family is not of great economic importance.
The fruits of Capparis aphylla, Capparis spinosa are preserved as pickle.
The top shoots and young leaves of Capparis aphylla are powdered and used to raise blisters and relieve tooth-ache. The burned and powdered wood of Capparis aphylla is a sure shot for leucorrhoea.
The root bark of Capparis spinosa is used as carminative and stimulant. The bark of Crataeva religiosa is used in medicine as a remedy for gall-bladder stone.
According to Campbell the crushed roots of Cleome monophylla when kept on the lips of a fainted person restores his conciousness.
The ornamental plants are Maerua, Roydsia suaveolens; Crataeva religiosa is also considered a holy plant by some sects of Hindus.
Affinities of Capparidaceae:
Engler and Prantl placed the family under Rhoedales just before the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) and intermediate between Papaveraceae and Cruciferae. Many botanists agree that Capparidaceae and Brassicaceae are closely related in bicarpellary ovary and parietal placentation. It seems that either these families have been derived from a common ancestor or Brassicaceae might have evolved from a primitive member of the Capparidaceae.
Puri (1945) was of the opinion that bicarpellary ovary and parietal placentation has been derived from a 4-loculed and 4-carpelled ovary with axile placentation.
1. Plants are mostly shrubs and some tree (Crataeva).
2. Laves alternate, stipulate and simple in some species (Cleome, Maerua).
3. Flowers hermaphrodite, hypogynous and actinomorphic.
4. Calyx and corolla free.
5. Presence of androphore or gynophore.
1. Leaves deciduous and exstipulate (Capparis decidua).
2. Calyx fused to form a tube (Maerua).
3. Gynoecium bicarpellary and syncarpous.
4. Fruit simple and seeds exalbuminous.
Common plants of the family:
1. Capparis decidua – A leafless shrub and its fruits make good pickle.
2. Cleome gynandra – A common weed with medicinally important seed.
3. Crataeua religiosa – A medium sized tree.
4. Maerua – A climbing shrubs.
5. Polanisia viscosa – A weed with yellow flowers and unstalked ovary.
Division of the family and chief genera:
Pax and Hoffman divided the family on the basis of structure and kind of fruits, replum and number of stamens:
Tribe (i) Capparideae:
Fruit berry or drupe, replum absent; stamens indefinite; trees or shrubs. Capparis, Cadaba, Maerua.
Tribe (ii) Dipterygioideae:
Fruits one or two seeded, samara or nutlet; stamens 6; shrubs. Dipterygium.
Tribe (iii) Emblingioideae:
Fruit dry, indehiscent, replum absent; stamens 8 to 10, 4-6 staminodal. Emblingia.
Tribe (iv) Pentadiplandroideae:
Fruit berry; stamens 10-13; shrubs or climbers. Pentadiplandra (W. Africa).
Tribe (v) Buhsioideae:
Fruit dry, inflated, many seeded; replum absent, shrubs. Buhsia, Stefanina.
Tribe (vi) Clemoideae:
Fruit capsule or siliqua with replum, dehiscent, annual herb. Cleome, Polanisia.
Important Types of Capparidaceae:
1. Cleome gynandra, Linn. (Syn. Gynandropsis pentaphylla or G. gynandra). (Fig. 32.3)
An annual herb.
Erect, herbaceous, cylindrical, branched, green, solid below and hollow above, glandular hairs present.
Alternate, stipulate, petiolate, palmately compound, pentafoliate.
Elliptical, obtuse apex, serrate margin, unicostate reticulate venation.
Bracteate, pedicellate, complete, hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, hypogynous, androphore and gynophore present.
Sepals 4, polysepalous, green, in two whorls, outer anteroposterior and inner lateral, imbricate aestivation, inferior.
Petals 4, polypetalous, long clawed, white, valvate aestivation, inferior.
Stamens 6, polyandrous, androphore present, filament long, anthers dorsifixed, dithecous, introrse, purple.
Bicarpellary, syncarpous; ovary superior, unilocular, parietal placentation, many ovules on each placentum, gynophore present; stigma sessile and capitate.
2. Capparis decidua, Linn. (Syn. C. aphylla) (Fig. 32.2):
Tap, branched and perennial.
Erect, woody, solid, cylindrical, branched, glabrous, spiny.
Alternate, stipulate, simple, sessile, highly caducous, acute apex, reticulate venation.
Corymb or corymbose.
Bracteate, pedicellate, complete, hermaphrodite, zygomorphic hypogynous, scarlet or yellow.
Sepals 4, polysepalous, arranged in two whorls, unequal, inner one saccate, imbricate aestivation.
Petals 4, polypetalous, imbricate aestivation, inferior.
Stamens indefinite, polyandrous, at the base of the gynophore, filament long, anthers dorsifixed, dithecous, introrse.
Bicarpellary, syncarpous, ovary superior, unilocular, parietal placentation, ovules many at each placentum, gynophore long and slender.