2. Zygophyllum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 385. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 182. 1754.
Bean-caper [Greek zygon, yoke, and phyllon, leaf, alluding to conjugate leaflets as in Z. fabago] Bean-caper [Greek zygon, yoke, and phyllon, leaf, alluding to conjugate leaflets as in Z. fabago]
Herbs or subshrubs [shrubs], perennial. Stems ± erect, highly branched, terete, less than 1 m, fleshy [becoming woody basally], glabrous [hairy]. Leaves opposite, 2-foliolate [even-pinnately compound or simple]; stipules deciduous [persistent], ± herbaceous [membranaceous], triangular, apex acute; petiolules absent; leaflets 2[–10], opposite, distinct, obovate, flat [terete], equal, base oblique, apex rounded [acute or obtuse], fleshy, surfaces glabrous [hairy]. Pedicels in leaf axils, reflexed downward [erect]. Flowers 1–2, slightly irregular by twisting of petals [regular]; sepals deciduous or persistent, [4–]5, distinct, green, often unequal, margins often membranous, apex rounded [obtuse to acute], glabrous; petals deciduous, [0 or 4–]5, imbricate, ± erect, slightly twisted [not twisted to twisted], white or yellow [orange], base red-orange [same as rest of petal], obovate, base clawed, apex rounded; nectary annular; stamens [8–]10, ± equal; filaments free, subulate, each with basal scale; anthers ovate; ovary sessile, [3–]5-lobed, [3–]5-locular, glabrous; ovules [2–]10 per locule; style persistent, not forming beak on fruit; stigma minute. Fruits capsules, oblong-cylindric [to globose], [4–]5-angled [or winged], septicidally dehiscent [indehiscent]. Seeds [1–]10 per locule, gray-brown, obovoid [ovoid].
Species ca. 70 (1 in the flora): introduced; Eurasia, n, s Africa, Australia.
The common name of Zygophyllum results from the pickled flower buds of several species being used as substitutes for capers (Capparis spinosa Linnaeus, Capparaceae) in flavoring foods.