Alice Springs Desert Park

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The Wild Passionfruit (Capparis spinosa var. nummularia) bears tasty fruits from the beginning of summer until the first frosts of winter. A native Australian relative of the well-known caper bush, the fruits are delicious and the flower buds can also be pickled. The large white flowers have a delicate scent and attract the white caper butterflies whose caterpillar can quickly eat and strip all the leaves from the bush. The bush does usually recover rapidly.

A great bush tucker plant that grows into a medium sized sparse to dense shrub. When the fruit ripens, the skin turns orange and splits open to reveal little black seeds. The fruit is best pick green to ripen off the bush for human consumption. The yellow pulp is consumed, with a taste similar to other passionfruit. The black seeds can be very bitter. The seeds are hot and spicy when crushed.

The plant grows naturally around the coast and inland along rivers and creeks in rocky soils in QLD, NT and WA.

The following display the flower, with the stamens, that surround the elongated gynophore. At the tip of the gynophore is the gynoecium (the part that swells and develops into the edible fruit).

Common name
Wild Passionfruit, caperbush, Merne arrutnenge (in local Arrernte language of Central Australia – pronounced arr-ORT-nung-a).


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Brassicales
  • Family: Capparaceae
  • Genus: Capparis
  • Species: C. spinosa
  • Subspecies: C. s. subsp. nummularia
  • Trinomial name: Capparis spinosa subs