Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Zygophyllum fabago

Higher Taxonomy
Family: ZygophyllaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, shrub, often armed; caudex present or not. Stem: branched; nodes often angled, swollen. Leaf: 1-compound, opposite, petioled; stipules persistent or not; leaflets entire. Inflorescence: flowers 1--2 in axils. Flower: bisexual; sepals 5, free, persistent or not; petals 5, free, generally spreading, twisted (corolla propeller-like) or not; stamens 10, appendaged on inside base or not; ovary superior, chambers (and lobes) 5--10, each with 1--several ovules, placentas axile. Fruit: capsule or splitting into 5--10 nutlets (= mericarps).
Genera In Family: 27 genera, +- 250 species: widespread especially in warm, dry regions; some cultivated (Guaiacum, lignum vitae; Tribulus, caltrop).
eFlora Treatment Author: Duncan M. Porter
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: ZygophyllumView Description 

Common Name: BEAN-CAPER
Habit: Perennial herb, unarmed; caudex woody. Stem: branched, fleshy. Leaf: stipules +- leaf-like or membranous; leaflets 2 [> 2], free, fleshy. Inflorescence: flowers 1--2 in axils. Flower: sepals often unequal, overlapping, deciduous or not; petals +- erect, white, yellow, or orange, base sometimes orange or red. Fruit: capsule, cylindric to spheric, 5-angled, septicidal. Seed: 1--few per chamber.
Species In Genus: +- 70 species: Eurasia, southern Africa, Australia. Etymology: (Greek: yoke leaf, from sometimes oblique leaflets)
Zygophyllum fabago L.
Stem: erect, glabrous, < 1 m. Leaf: leaflets < 4.5 cm, 3 cm wide, obliquely ovate; awn between leaflets 1 mm, +- persistent. Flower: 6--7 mm; sepals +- = petals; stamens exserted, appendages < stamens, +- linear, divided at tip. Fruit: 25--35 mm, oblong-cylindric; style persistent, thread-like, < 7 mm; pedicel reflexed.
Ecology: Uncommon. Disturbed areas; Elevation: < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: s NCoRO, SnJV, D; Distribution Outside California: to Kansas, Texas, also in New York, Pennsylvania, native to Mediterranean, central Asia. Flowering Time: Summer Note: Forms large colonies; flower buds have been used in place of capers.
Synonyms: Zygophyllum fabago var. brachycarpum Boiss.
Jepson eFlora Author: Duncan M. Porter
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Noxious Weed listed by CDFA
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Zygophyllum fabago

botanical illustration including Zygophyllum fabago


Citation for this treatment: Duncan M. Porter 2012, Zygophyllum fabago, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 17, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 17, 2020.

No expert verified images found for Zygophyllum fabago.

Geographic subdivisions for Zygophyllum fabago:
s NCoRO, SnJV, D
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).