Posted by: debrakolkka | February 8, 2011

Wild capers

Things just seem to grow in Italy.  On my walk from Ponte a Serraglio to the next part of Bagni di Lucca, La Villa, the sides of the hills are crowded with plants.  These change according to the season.  In spring bluebells, daffodils and snow drops appear, there is always something to look at.

Before I left in May 2010 I noticed  caper plants beginning to grow from a rock wall.  By October,when I returned, they were almost finished their season. Now, in February, they look dead, but I’m sure they will be back soon.


capers growing wild from the wall


how do they grow on a wall?


the last of the flowers

more flowers



I wonder if anyone picks them.  Perhaps they don’t taste very good.  I wouldn’t know what to do to them to make them edible so there is not much use me taking them home.  Not to worry,  I love seeing them growing wild on the wall.

The unopened buds of the flowers are what we know as capers.  They can be eaten fresh or preserved in salt or vinegar.  The salted ones are better,  as vinegar interferes with the delicate flavour and makes them a bit soft.  You won’t go back to the vinegar ones after you have tried the salted version.

salted capers

The plants also produce milder-tasting, long stemmed fruit called caperberries.  These are usually preserved in brine and are delicious.  You can eat them as you would olives, or use them as you would capers.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the plants to see when they start to grow again.


  1. I was saying to John the other day next year we should try to goes capers, here need a nice sunny wall, just love em!

    • You should do it, they can’t be that hard to grow.

  2. It is the first time I see capers growing……Lovely. And just there on the way to La Villa,Love your blog Deb!

    • Thank you.

  3. Yum.

  4. Oh yes salted ones are divine and as you say it’s hard to go back to vinegar ones.

  5. Looks like spring has sprung. We brought some back from Aeolian islands, salted and in cryovac packs, and have been using liberally!! Beautiful plant! Sigh, I miss Italy…

  6. I just love caper sauce, – and caperberries – very addictive. Great to see them growing.

  7. Me too! I haven’t seen wild capers growing either. So interesting to see them…, I wonder if they’re a bit like olives as you soak ‘n brine ’em 😉

  8. How wonderful to see the caperberries! Golly I love your photos! I’m sure you could do them yourself! I love those big ones much more than the little ones

    Substitutes for capers are nasturtium seeds – I even put some in some piccallili last autumn and I had dinner with some German friends who told me that young green elderberries can be salted and used in a similar way…. Spring is creeping in here too, but we have fog this morning.

    • I love the caperbrries too. I can’t stop eating when they are in front of me.

  9. Oh Deb! You’ve just reminded me of the Pizza Naples topped with anchovies and capers… MammaMia! So much salt.. Don’t like “la Napoletana” It is full of capers!!!
    I don’t mind capers when I cook them with meat (kind of scaloppine). 😉

  10. Hey Deb yummy yes you can pick them the best time is when the new growth is young you can pick them and add some salty brine and store them in a air tight container for a month or so and then eat them just like olives very yummy.

  11. Hi Deb – yummy yum! I had the most delectable beef Carpaccio with salted capers and white tomato sorbet at Sparrow in North Adelaide recently. Your pictures have just brought it all back for me (in a good way!). I was never really a big fan until then, as I never realised capers could be so nice. So glad I was wrong.

  12. I’ve never seen them growing before…

  13. I don’t have idea about “capers” We don’t eat something like that in Indonesia.. 😀
    Is the taste like olive? I am wondering that might be fresh-sour, hahahaha… cmmiw

    • Capers are often used with fish. Tartare sauce uses capers. It is hard to describe the taste – a little like olives I guess, but that is because they are prepared in a similar way.

  14. What is the latin name?

    • The latin name for caper is capparis spinosa. It is derived from capra, meaning goat, because of its strong smell.

  15. […] here to see more on the wild […]

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