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    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.;
eFlora Treatment Author: Duncan M. Porter
Jepson Online Interchange
Noxious Weed

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botanical illustration including Zygophyllum fabago


Citation for this treatment: Duncan M. Porter 2012, Zygophyllum fabago, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 17, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 17, 2018.

Geographic subdivisions for Zygophyllum fabago:
s NCoRO, SnJV, D;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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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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.