Capparis decidua

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Local names:
Arabic (tundub,sodad,murkheit,kursan), French (caprier sans feuilles,caprier), Hindi (karir,karil), Somali (meringa)

Capparis decidua is a bushy shrub in dense tufts, 4-5 m high, or occasionally a small tree with many green vine-like apparently leafless branches, hanging in bundles. Bark turns whitish-grey colour with age, but most branches and twigs are a glossy dark green. Small, light brown spines occur in pairs on the twigs at each node.

Leaves very minute (2 mm long), with a very short life span on young shoots, so that the plant looks leafless most of the time. 
Flowers pink, red-veined, in small groups along the leafless shoots, in the axils of the spines.

Fruit a small many-seeded ovoid or sub-globulous, slightly mucronate pink berry of the size and shape of a cherry, becoming blackish when dry.

The generic name is derived from the Arabic 'kapar', the name for Capparis spinosa.

Ecology

This species is common in dry tropical Africa, especially in the Sahel, where it sometimes constitutes lines of small trees in Wadi beds, as in Mauritania for instance. In West Africa, the area of distribution is identical to that of Cadaba farinosa; its southern limit corresponds to the northern loop of the Senegal river. In the Republic of Niger it reaches the Konadougou. Its area includes Tibesti (West Chad), much of the Sudan (except the extreme South) the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Iran, the Mascarene Islands and Natal.

It is tolerant to prolonged drought and an interesting plant by reason of its excellent adaptation to arid conditions.

Native range
Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan

Tree management

C. decidua tolerates drought , fire,  frost and  termites. The trees are suited for coppicing.

Seed storage behavior is intermediate.

This species is common in dry tropical Africa, especially in the Sahel, where it sometimes constitutes lines of small trees in Wadi beds, as in Mauritania for instance. In West Africa, the area of distribution is identical to that of Cadaba farinosa; its southern limit corresponds to the northern loop of the Senegal river. In the Republic of Niger it reaches the Konadougou. Its area includes Tibesti (West Chad), much of the Sudan (except the extreme South) the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Iran, the Mascarene Islands and Natal.

It is tolerant to prolonged drought and an interesting plant by reason of its excellent adaptation to arid conditions.

Vegetative propagation is by cuttings or tissue culture. Direct sowing, planting stock and wildings have also been used.

Erosion control:  C. decidua has been found to be one of the best species for shelter belts to check the movement of sand in the Thar desert, India (Pandey and Rokad, 1992).

  The fruit is relished by camels and also, wherever within their reach, by goats. The fruits are also consumed by man in the Sudan.

Its browse value is probably its most important asset, despite being low in nutritional value. In Sudan for instance, it is a major source of camel food as it can be eaten when little else is available.

It is used for charcoal and firewood in its native range.

Timber:  The wood is very hard and used to make water pipes and water troughs.

Shade or shelter:  One of its preferred uses in the Sudan is as a shade and shelterbelt (Vogt, 1995).

Medicine:  The very bitter roots are used in the Indian and Farsi pharmacopoeia and the root bark is used to cure swollen joints.

As it is drought resistant and withstands neglect, this species could be particularly useful in arid areas as a live hedge providing edible fruits.