Syrian beancaper [Zygophyllum fabago L.][ZYGFA] [CDFA list: A] Photographs Map of Distribution

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SYNONYMS:Zygophyllum fabago L. var. brachycarpum Boiss.

GENERAL 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.

SEEDLINGS:No information available.

MATURE PLANT:Glabrous, 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. Stipules triangular.

ROOTS and UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES:Taproot stout, deep, branched, sometimes with long, fleshy lateral roots that can produce new shoots.

FLOWERS:May-August. 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.

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FRUITS 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.

HABITAT:Disturbed sites, abandoned gardens. Inhabits desert areas and dry grasslands in its native environment.

DISTRIBUTION:Uncommon. San Joaquin Valley, western North Coast Ranges, and Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. To 1000 m (3300 ft).

PROPAGATION/PHENOLOGY:Reproduces by seed and vegetatively from lateral roots. Root fragments can produce new plants. The biology of Syrian beancaper is poorly understood.

MANAGEMENT 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.

SIMILAR SPECIES:Syrian beancaper is the only species in the genus Zygophyllum in California and is unlikely to be confused with any other species.

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