Research Article
Research Article
Capparis kbangensis (Capparaceae), a new species from central Vietnam
expand article infoDanh Thuong Sy, Do Van Hai§, Ritesh Kumar Choudhary|, The Bach Tran§, Hoang Mau Chu, Huu Quan Nguyen, Thi Thu Nga Nguyen, Gordon C. Tucker, Joongku Lee#
‡ TNU-University of Education, Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam
§ Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Hanoi, Vietnam
| Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India
¶ Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, United States of America
# Chungnam National University, Daejeon, South Korea
Open Access


Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V. Hai, a new species from Kbang District, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam, is described and illustrated. The new species is morphologically similar to Capparis versicolor but differs by several characters such as emarginate leaf apex, hairy margin of sepals, smaller fruits, and fewer seeds per fruit. Its ecology and conservation status are provided along with a taxonomic key to the closely allied species.


Capers, Capparis versicolor, Gia Lai Province, taxonomy


Capparis Tourn. ex L. is one of the largest genera of the family Capparaceae and is important due to its economic and medicinal value (Rivera et al. 2003; Jiang et al. 2007; Chedraoui et al. 2017). The genus consists of 139 species distributed in tropical and subtropical Old World to Mongolia (POWO 2019). It occupies mostly xeric habitats and is characterized by the presence of thorns and saccate outer sepals (Jacobs 1965; Hall et al. 2002, 2004). The genus is represented by the four formal sections namely Capparis, Sodada, Monostichocalyx, and Busbeckea (Jacobs 1965) (Jacobs 1965). In Vietnam, they are represented by 37 species, three subspecies and two varieties (Ho 1999; Ban and Dorofeev 2003; Sy et al. 2018). The central highlands of Vietnam possesses a rich floristic diversity and includes five provinces namely Lam Dong, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum. Our earlier explorations in these areas have resulted in the discovery of two new Capparis species, namely C. daknongensis and C. gialaiensis (Sy et al. 2013, 2015). The present discovery signifies the importance of the highlands of Vietnam and demands more floristic survey and explorations in these areas.

Material and methods

While revising the taxonomy of Capparis in Vietnam, a floristic exploration trip was conducted during 2011 to Kbang District of Gia Lai Province. During this trip, an interesting Capparis species with young flowers and ripened fruits was encountered. However, only one individual could be located at that time. During our other trips to the same area conducted during 2017–2018, another population with 11 individuals in both flowering and fruiting stage could be traced. After a thorough examination of the type materials housed at HN, K, E, P, CAL and comparison of the morphological features of the collected taxon with all Capparis species from South east Asia (Gagnepain 1908, 1943; Jacobs 1960, 1965; Chayamarit 1991; Raghavan 1993; Ho 1999; Ban and Dorofeev 2003; Srisanga and Chayamarit 2004; Hu 2007; Zhang and Tucker 2008; Sy et al. 2013, 2015, 2018; Fici 2016; Fici et al. 2018, 2020; Souvannakhoummane et al. 2018) led us to conclude that our species does not match perfectly with any of the existing Capparis and hence we describe it here as a new species.


Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V. Hai, sp. nov.

Figures 1, 2, 3, 4


Capparis kbangensis is similar to Capparis versicolor Griff. in the number of secondary veins of the leaves, color of petals, number of stamens, the length of gynophore, but differs from it by the leaf characters (emarginate vs acute apex), hairy sepal margins (vs. glabrous), smaller fruits and number of seeds per fruit (4–5 per fruit, reniform vs. 15 per fruit, nearly polygonal).

Figure 1. 

Map of Vietnam indicating type locality of Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V. Hai.


Vietnam. Gia Lai Province: Kbang District, along the road, on hillocks, alt. 626 m, 14°11'44.0"N, 108°35'40.9"E, 07 April 2018, Sy Danh Thuong, Do Van Hai, Thuong 0704201801 (holotype HN!; isotype, IBSC!).

Figure 2. 

Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V.Hai A habit B flowering branch C fruiting branch D fruit E fruit showing a distinct beak F cross section of the fruit G seeds. (Photographs by Sy & D.V. Hai).


Scandent shrubs, up to 5 m high. Innovations with densely brown hairs, glabrous when mature. Thorns ca. 3 mm long, reddish brown, recurved. Petiole 6–8 mm long, hairy; blade elliptic to obovate, 4.5–6 × 2.8–3.2 cm, glabrous, young leaves yellowish green, dark green when older; midvein abaxially raised, adaxially flat; secondary veins 6–7 on each side of midvein, abaxially not obvious; base round or cuneate; apex emarginate. Inflorescence corymbs simple, terminal, with the lower flowers axillary, or few flowered in lateral racemes; pedicels 1.5–1.7 cm long, glabrous. Flower buds globose, 5–6 mm. Sepals 0.9–1 × 0.4–0.5 cm long, outer pairs hairy along margins, inner pairs hairy inside and along the margins; sepals of outer whorl boat-shaped and inner whorl obovate. Petals white, later turns to light pink, obovate, lower pairs 1.6–1.7 × 0.7–0.9 cm, upper pairs 1.7–1.8 × 0.9–1 cm, both surfaces pubescent, especially at the base. Stamens 57–60; filaments 3–3.5 cm long, glabrous, white; anthers ca. 2 mm long. Disk nearly parallelogram shaped. Gynophore 3.8–4.2 cm long, glabrous. Ovary elliptic, 0.2 × 0.1 cm, top with beak, yellowish green, glabrous, placentas 4. Fruits globose, 1.8–1.9 cm in diam, black when mature, surface with some knobs, beaked apex. Seeds 4–5 per fruit, reniform, 4–5 × 2–3 mm.

Figure 3. 

Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V.Hai A young stem B mature stem showing thorns C leaf D flower E sepals F petals G stamens H stamen with filament and anther I disk J gynophore and ovary K ovary. (Photographs by Sy & D.V. Hai).

Other specimens examined

Vietnam. Gia Lai Province, Kbang District, near the edge of forest, alt. 630 m, 14°12'16.0"N, 108°36'18.5"E, 11 March 2011, T.T. Bach, D.V. Hai, B.H. Quang, H.M. Tam, S.D. Thuong, PTV 698 (HN!). VIETNAM. Gia Lai Province, Kbang District, along the road, on the small hillocks, alt. 626 m, 14°11'44.0"N, 108°35'40.9"E, 28 April 2017, D.V. Hai, Hai28042017 (HN!).


Fls. March to April; Frts: April to August.

Distribution and ecology

Capparis kbangensis is currently known from Kbang District, Gia Lai Province. It was found growing on the basaltic soils of hillocks along the roads or near the edge of forests, at an elevation of around 626–630 m. Capparis micracantha DC., Saccharum spontaneum L., Chromolaena odorata (L.) R.M. King & H. Rob., Erycibe sp., Callicarpa albida Bl., Bidens pilosa L. were found associated with the new species.

Figure 4. 

Capparis kbangensis Sy & D.V Hai, sp.nov (A, C–J drawn from holotype Thuong0704201801 B drawn from PTV698; K, L drawn from Hai28042017) A flowering branch B stem with thorns C base of leaf D apex of leaf E sepals F petals G filament and anther H disk I gynophore and ovary J ovary K fruiting branch L fruit (Drawn by Mrs. Le Kim Chi).


The new species derives its name from the type locality Kbang District of the Gia Lai Province in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, it is known as Cáp kbang.

Conservation status

During the last 10 years of our survey in Vietnam forests, we could observe only 12 individuals of Capparis kbangensis growing along the road or near the edge of forests. These habitats are frequently affected by the anthropogenic activities. Locating this species in the nearby areas proved a futile exercise. Therefore, Capparis kbangensis is assessed as Critically Endangered (CR) or Data deficient (DD) based on the IUCN Red List Categories (IUCN 2017). Further inventories are needed to find additional populations in Vietnam.


Capparis kbangensis is morphologically similar to Capparis versicolor. However, it also exhibits some similarities with C. monantha, C. siamensis, and C. flavicans. A comparison of the morphological characters of these species belonging to section Monostichocalyx is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1.

Morphological comparison of Capparis kbangensis with others species of section Monostichocalyx.

Characters Capparis kbangensis Capparis versicolor Capparis monantha Capparis siamensis Capparis flavicans
Shape of leaf elliptic, nearly obovate or obovate elliptic, oblong ovate, elliptic, ovate obovate, elliptic, rhomboid
Size of leaf (cm) 4.5–6 × 2.8–3.2 3.5–8 × 1.5–3.5 4–7 × 2–4 5–10.5 × 3–4.5 1.2–3 × 1–1.7
Leaf surface glabrous glabrous hairy when young, soon glabrous hair on the midvein and secondary vein densely hairy when young, soon glabrous
Leaf base round or cuneate cuneate obtuse, acute cordate, obtuse, round obtuse, cuneate, acute
Leaf apex emarginate acute, obtuse, V-shape or acuminate acute-acuminate, mucronate acute or acuminate round, obtuse, notched, mucronate
Secondary veins (in pairs) 6–7 6–9 2–4 4–7 3–5
Inflorescence simple corymb simple corymb solitary solitary solitary
Length of pedicels of flowers (in cm) 1.5–1.7, glabrous 1.5–5, glabrous 0.5–1.5, glabrous 1–1.3, hairy 1–3, hairy
Shape of sepal outer pairs boat-shape. inner pairs obovate outer pairs boat-shape or nearly orbicular. inner pairs elliptic both outer and inner pairs obovate both outer and inner pairs elliptic or boat-shaped outer pairs boat-shape, inner pairs ovate or obovate
Size of sepal (in cm) 0.9–1 × 0.4–0.5 0.9–1.1 × 0.8–1 1.4–1.8 × 0.6–0.8 0.8–1 × 0.3–0.5 0.6–0.8 × 0.4–0.5
Sepal surface outer pairs only hairy along the margin. inner pairs hairy inside and along the margins outer pair and inner pair glabrous outer pair and inner pair only hairy outside outer pairs hairy. inner pairs hairy outside inner pair more hairy than outside
Shape of petal obovate nearly orbicular, obovate obovate obovate, sometimes spathulate obovate
Size of petal (cm) inner pairs 1.6–1.7 × 0.7–0.9; outer pairs 1.7–1.8 × 0.9–1; both surface hairy, especially at the base 1.2–1.7 × 0.7–1.4, glabrous or inside hairy near base 2.5–2.8 × 0.8, hairy outside 2–2.5 × 0.5–0.8, hairy outside 0.8–0.9 × 0.4, densely hairy outside
Petal color white, turns light pink on maturity white, purple, pink white with yellow green, white, upper pairs with a deep yellow blotch, fading red yellow, upper pairs with golden yellow blotch, fading brown
Stamens 57–60 50–70 more than 46 36–46 6–12
Ovary elliptic, 0.2 × 0.1 cm, top with knob, glabrous elliptic, 0.2 cm long, glabrous elongate, 0.5 × 0.1 cm, long beak, hairy ovate, 0.3–0.5 × 0.25 cm; beaked, densely yellowish hairy ovate, obovate, densely hairy
Gynophore 3.8–4.2 cm, glabrous 3–5 cm, glabrous 2.1–2.4 cm, hairy 2–2.5 cm, hairy 1.2–1.7 cm, hairy
Fruits globose, diam. 1.8–1.9 cm, surface glabrous with some protuberances, beaked globose, diam. 3–5 cm, surface glabrous or scabrous, sometimes with a few small irregular protuberances, beaked unknown nearly globose, elliptic or ovate; 3.5–5.5 × 2.5–3 cm, with 8 longitudinal rows of small protuberances, sometimes glabrous subglobose, elliptic, 2.5–4 × 2–3.5 cm, surface with densely small protuberances
Seeds 4–5 per fruit, reniform 15 per fruit, nearly polygonal unknown 0.7–1 × 0.5–0.6 cm 2–8 per fruit, elliptic, reniform
Distribution Vietnam China, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam Thailand Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam
Habitat on the basaltic soils of the hillocks along the roads or near the edge of forests on slightly dry areas, sandy areas, scattered forests or among shrubs on limestone hills on mixed deciduous forest, bamboo forest, open dry jungle, edge of evergreen forest dry scrub, deforested land, evergreen jungle, dry Dipterocarp forest on poor sandy or rocky soil
Elevation (m asl) 626–630 100–1000 100 50–1200 40–350
Phenology Fls: March-April Fls: April-July Fls: February-August Fls: December-April Fls: December-April
Frts: April-August Frts: July-April Frts: unknown Frts: May-November Frts: May-November

Key to the Capparis kbangensis and allied species

1 Stamens 6–12 C. flavicans
Stamens more than 30 2
2 Leaf hairy. Ovary elongate or ovate, hairy 3
Leaf glabrous. Ovary elliptic, glabrous 4
3 Sepal obovate. Petals yellowish-white. Ovary elongated C. monantha
Sepal boat-shaped. Petal greenish-white. Ovary ovate C. siamensis
4 Apex of the leaf acute, obtuse, V-shape or acuminate. Inner pairs of sepals elliptic, glabrous. Fruits globose, diam. 3–5 cm. Seeds 15 per fruit, nearly polygonal C. versicolor
Apex of the leaf emarginate. Inner pairs of sepals obovate, hairy. Fruits globose, diam. 1.8–1.9 cm. Seeds 4–5 per fruit, reniform C. kbangensis


We thank the curators and staff of the herbaria HN, HNU, HNPM and VNM for making their materials accessible. We also thank the scientists of the Department of Botany, Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR) for collecting specimens. Thanks are due to Mrs. Le Kim Chi for drawing the illustration. This research is funded by Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) under grant number 106.03-2019.10. It is also supported by Chungnam National University. RKC is thankful to the Director, Agharkar Research Institute for facilitating research activities between India and Vietnam.


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