Syrian beancaper [Zygophyllum
fabago L.][ZYGFA] [CDFA list: A] Photographs
Map of Distribution
fabago L. var. brachycarpum Boiss.
DESCRIPTION:Long-lived herbaceous perennial, to 1 m tall.
Infestations typically form large colonies. Plants die back to
the ground during freezing temperatures in winter. Flower buds
have been used as a substitute for capers. Introduced from Mediterranean
and central Asia.
bushy, branched from a thickened woody crown, erect or spreading
to 1 m or more in diameter. Leaves opposite, compound, with
1 pair of thick, waxy, oblong to obovate leaflets 1-4 cm long.
A small awn-like projection often extends from between the leaflets.
and UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES:Taproot stout, deep, branched, sometimes with long,
fleshy lateral roots that can produce new shoots.
Solitary on stalks, 1 or 2 in leaf axils. Petals 5, separate,
yellow or coppery, 7-8 mm long. Sepals 5, separate, oblong, 6-7
mm long. Stamens 10, extended beyond petals. Ovary superior,
angular, sessile, 5-chambered, with 1 seed per chamber.
back to top of page
and SEEDS:August-October. Capsules oblong-cylindric, 5-sided,
slightly winged, 25-35 mm long, with a persistent thread-like
style. Stalk often bent downwards (reflexed). Seeds oval,
flattened, gray-brown, rough, 2-3 mm long.
abandoned gardens. Inhabits desert areas and dry grasslands in
its native environment.
Joaquin Valley, western North Coast Ranges, and Mojave and Sonoran
Deserts. To 1000 m (3300 ft).
by seed and vegetatively from
lateral roots. Root fragments can produce new plants. The
biology of Syrian beancaper is poorly understood.
FAVORING/DISCOURAGING SURVIVAL:Cultivation can disperse seeds and produce new plants
from root fragments. Tops of plants often break off with hand
pulling, leaving the entire root or root fragments to resprout.
SPECIES:Syrian beancaper is
the only species in the genus Zygophyllum in California
and is unlikely to be confused with any other species.
back to top of page