Florida Native Landscape Plants

Jamaican Caper: A Must Have Native


If you are looking for more native plants to add to your landscape, add Jamaican caper (Capparis cynophallophora) to your list. You won’t find this at your local box store garden center, so plan on a trip to your local nursery—it’s well worth it!

Jamaican caper is a slow growing, evergreen shrub that will reach about 10 feet at maturity. It usually grows in a pyramid shape, which makes it a perfect choice for a shrub border, or at the corner of a foundation. It is a host plant for the Florida white (Appias drusilla) butterfly.

Jamaican caper flowers profusely in April until about June. The flowers emerge white and turn to a deep purplish red as they age. They emit a wonderful fragrance, which is more pronounced at night, and they attract numerous pollinators including honey bees.

About 2-4 months after flowering, the fruit put on another show of color. The fruit begins as cylindrical bean-like pod (about 4-8 inches long) that eventually twists and bursts open displaying bright red seeds. The seeds are a food source for many native birds such as mockingbirds and cardinals.

Jamaican caper is easy to care for. They require little to no pruning. Like all natives, they benefit from some supplemental water during establishment, which in this case takes about two-years, but no irrigation is required once they are established. If leaves become yellowed, a fertilizer high in iron may be applied, but generally Jamaican caper thrives without additional fertilizer.

Flowers. Photo by Linda Seals, UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County
Fruit. Photo by Linda Seals, UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County