Caper is a perennial, very common indigenous plant which can encountered at Chadwick Lakes. This is a many-benched sprawling greyish shrubby plant, with thick, shiny, round to ovate leaves growing alternately on a drooping or arched stalk.
The caper is adapted to poor soils and harsh environments and can withstand temperatures over 40°C in summer. It can be found growing on rocky areas, walls and bastions, garigue and maquis. Being salt-tolerant it can grow on sea-cliffs.
The caper bears sweetly fragrant showy white 5 to 7 cm flowers, having four petals. These have many conspicuous long violet-coloured stamens, with a single stigma rising well above the stamens. The flowers can be seen from April to September.
It has a sharp piquant flavour affecting taste or smell with a sharp acid sensation. It adds a peculiar aroma and saltiness to food such as fish, meat, salads, pasta sauce, and pizza. It contributes to classic Mediterranean flavours.
The dark olive green flower buds, from about 7 to 14 mm, are edible, and are pickled in salt, or salt and vinegar. In some countries the caper berry produced from the fertilised dried flower is also pickled to be served as appetizers, known as mezze, or even as part of multi-course meals, or as snacks while drinking or talking.
Caper leaves are also used in salads and fish dishes, pickled or boiled and preserved in jars with brine. Furthermore they are used as a substitute of rennet – to separate milk into solid curds – in the production of high-quality cheese.
Leaves and roots are used to make a decoction by boiling them. This extraction is used on skin rashes.
In some countries, the caper is a very important economic species.
The caper is legally protected in the Maltese Islands.