Selargius Caper

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

The Selargius caper is a perennial plant that grows wild amongst rocks or calcium-rich walls. There are 6 different species known: spinosa, ovata, leucophilla, mucronifolia, cartilaginea and decidua. The species most widespread throughout the Mediterranean is the spinosa. The deciduous shrub reaches a height of 1.5 m in specimens of 70-80 years of age. The blooms are durable, and start in May and end in September. The fruit is a singular berry (capperone) that is green and opens at maturity. The plant grows in arid or semi-arid climates. It is resistant to temperatures even above 40°C. It prefers loose, stony soil of a chalky and medium texture. This plant does best with a high amount of sun exposure and shelter from cold winds. The harvest begins in the second week of May and continues until the beginning of September. Normally, in the first ten days of July, due to the presence of the insect Cappariminya savastanoy that affects the flower buds, the harvest is interrupted. The harvest takes place during the early morning hours and at sunset.The first historical descriptions of the Selargius Caper come from Greek literature and date back before Biblical times. Aristotle and Dioscorides recorded the capers’ medicinal and cosmetic uses, while Pliny the Elder distinguished them according to their homeland, arguing that those from African countries caused damage to the gums while those from Puglia dissolved the intestines. Records regarding the first recorded agricultural use go back to Classical times, during which the first cultivation methods are described. The caper plants were planted in pits filled with stone so that the roots could grow between them. The ancient capers were used to prepare a decoction made of bark of logs and roots to treat varicose veins that affected many women. Only later, in the second half of the 800s were capers introduced into gastronomy thanks to the Dentoni family of Genova, and, in particular, Domenico Dentoni, who was in those years the mayor of Selargius, and began to grow capers on a large scale, making the agriculture of Selarigus unique in Sardinia. The women of Selarigus purchased the capers from producers and transported them in baskets on their heads to resell in the markets of Cagliari. The men, on the other hand, with the use wagons began to export the product to all of Sardinia, ensuring that these tasty buds were introduced into the local cuisine, giving the typical dishes of the traditional cuisine a unique taste. Today the capers are sold in bulk, under oil or salt in containers of glass or plastic, but only  in very small quantities from the one producer that is still active.

Back to the archive >