Shrubs or trees (deciduous or evergreen); spines absent (usually without thorns except Atamisquea); glabrous or puberulent with stellate trichomes or lepidote scales (producing glucosinolates). Stems erect or spreading; sparsely to profusely branched. Leaves alternate and distichous or spirally arranged, simple [palmately compound]; venation pinnate; stipules caducous, scalelike or absent; petioles present (pulvinus absent, nectaries present or absent, [petiolar spines present]); blade margins entire. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, usually racemose, sometimes corymbose or flowers solitary; pedunculate; bud scales usually persistent; bracts absent. Pedicels present. Flowers bisexual (sometimes appearing unisexual), actinomorphic or slightly zygomorphic, rotate to crateriform, campanulate, or urceolate; perianth and androecium hypogynous; sepals usually persistent (deciduous in Quadrella incana), 4, distinct; petals 4, attached directly to receptacle, imbricate, distinct, equal; intrastaminal nectary-discs or glands present or absent; stamens 6-250; filaments distinct, glabrous or pubescent; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits, pollen shed in single grains, binucleate, commonly tricolporate; pistil 1; ovary 1-carpellate, 2-locular; placentation parietal; ovules anatropous, bitegmic; style 1, (straight, relatively short and thick); stigma 1, capitate, unlobed. Fruits capsules or berries, valvate, elongate, dehiscent or not by 2 lateral valves (stipitate from elongation of gynophore). Seeds 1-38 or many, usually tan to yellowish brown or brown, sometimes green; arillate or not; endosperm scanty or absent, sometimes a persistent perisperm present; cotyledons incumbent to accumbent, (radicle-hypocotyl relatively short and conical). x = 8, 10.
Shrubs, trees, or woody vines, evergreen (deciduous in some Crateva), with branched or simple trichomes. Stipules spinelike, small, or absent. Leaves alternate or rarely opposite, simple or compound with 3[-9] leaflets. Inflorescences axillary or superaxillary, racemose, corymbose, subumbellate, or paniculate, 2-10-flowered or 1-flowered in leaf axil. Flowers bisexual or sometimes unisexual, actinomorphic or zygomorphic, often with caducous bracteoles. Sepals 4(-8), in 1 or 2 whorls, equal or not, distinct or basally connate, rarely outer whorl or all sepals connected and forming a cap. Petals (0-)4(-8), alternating with sepals, distinct, with or without a claw. Receptacle flat or tapered, often extended into an androgynophore, with nectar gland. Stamens (4-)6 to ca. 200; filaments on receptacle or androgynophore apex, distinct, inflexed or spiraled in bud; anthers basifixed (dorsifixed in Stixis), 2-celled, introrse, longitudinally dehiscent. Pistil 2(-8)-carpellate; gynophore ± as long as stamens; ovary ovoid and terete (linear and ridged in Borthwickia), 1-loculed, with 2 to several parietal placentae (3-6-loculed with axile placentation in Borthwickia and Stixis); ovules several to many, 2-tegmic; style obsolete or highly reduced, sometimes elongated and slender; stigma capitate or not obvious, rarely 3-branched. Fruit a berry or capsule, globose, ellipsoid, or linear, with tough indehiscent exocarp or valvately dehiscent. Seeds 1 to many per fruit, reniform to polygonal, smooth or with various sculpturing; embryo curved; endosperm small or absent.
Ovary usually borne on a more or less elongated gynophore, usually 1-locular with 2 parietal placentas but sometimes 2-locular by the intrusion of the placentas or multi-locular; ovules 4–?
Stamens 5–? usually borne on a short or elongated androphore, sometimes accompanied by staminodes
Receptacle cupular, funnel-shaped or cylindric with an entire, undulate, dentate or fimbriate margin, sometimes very short
Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, bisexual or unisexual by abortion, usually 4-merous, hypogynous
Seeds reniform or subglobose, without endosperm; embryo usually curved
Leaves alternate, simple or digitately 3––9-foliolate; stipules absent or rudimentary, rarely spiny
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, of racemes, corymbs or panicles, or flowers solitary and axillary
Herbs, shrubs or trees, sometimes scandent, glabrous, pubescent, glandular or scabrous, occasionally lepidote
Stipules present, minute or spiny, caducous or persistent
Leaves alternate or rarely opposite, simple or digitately 2–7-foliolate; leaflets entire, rarely serrate, dentate or panduriform
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemose, often corymbose, or the flowers solitary or fascicled, often showy
Flowers hermaphrodite or very rarely dioecious, regular or irregular
Sepals 4–8, free or variously connate, valvate, imbricate or open in aestivation; receptacle cupular, funnel-shaped or cylindric, with an entire, undulate, dentate or fimbriate margin, sometimes very short
Petals 4–16 or absent, sessile or clawed
Stamens few to many, usually borne on a short or elongated androphore, all fertile or some without anthers; filaments free, equal or unequal, filiform; anthers 2-celled, oblong, longitudinally dehiscent
Ovary sessile or more usually supported on a gynophore of varying length, 1- locular with parietal placentas or divided by spurious dissepiments into 2 or more locules; ovules few to many
Fruit a capsule or berry, mostly oblong-cylindrical, globose or torulose, few- to many-seeded, rarely 1- seeded
SELECTED REFERENCES Ernst, W. R. 1963b. The genera of Capparidaceae and Moringaceae in the southeastern United States. J. Arnold Arbor. 44: 81-95. Hall, J. C., H. H. Iltis, and K. J. Sytsma. 2004. Molecular phylogenetics of core Brassicales, placement of orphan genera Emblingia, Forchhammeria, Tirania, and character evolution. Syst. Bot. 29: 654-669. Hall, J. C., K. J. Sytsma, and H. H. Iltis. 2002. Phylogeny of Capparaceae and Brassicaceae based on chloroplast sequence data. Amer. J. Bot. 89: 1826-1842. Kers, L. E. 2003. Capparaceae. In: K. Kubitzky et al., eds. 1990+. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. 9+ vols. Berlin etc. Vol. 5, pp. 36-56.