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Sapindus saponaria - Hook.&Arn.

Common Name Western Soapberry
Family Sapindaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards The seed is poisonous[1]. The fruit is poisonous[149].
Habitats Limestone bluffs, slopes and by streams[43], in moist clay or dry limestone[82]. Mexican valleys from the upper desert to the woodland zones[181].
Range South-western N. America - Kansas to Northern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Sapindus saponaria Western Soapberry


Jeff McMillian @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Sapindus saponaria Western Soapberry
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

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Sapindus saponaria is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in leaf from April to October, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Sapindus saponaria drummondii. (Hook.&Arn.)L.Benson.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Fruit[105]. No more details from this report but another report says that it is poisonous[149]. The berry-like fruits have a leathery coat that contains poisonous saponins[229]. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter[200] and often hangs on the tree until the following spring[82].

Medicinal Uses

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The fruit is antirheumatic and febrifuge[149]. It is used in the treatment of kidney diseases[149, 227]. A poultice of the sap has been used to treat wounds[257].

Other Uses

A soap is obtained from the fruit by rubbing the fruit in water[1, 11, 95, 103]. Used in Mexico for washing clothes[227]. The fruit can be dried and stored for later use[169]. Buttons and necklaces are made from the seed[149]. Wood - heavy, strong and close-grained[82, 149]. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot[227]. It splits easily into thin strips and is often used in basket making, it is also used as a fuel[61, 82, 227, 229].

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Oil  Industrial Crop: Pesticide  Industrial Crop: Soap  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

Succeeds in any well-drained soil in full sun[220]. This species tolerates a wide range of soils, including those that are dry, stony and nutrient deficient[200]. One report says that this species will probably not survive long outdoors in Britain, even though it is the hardiest member of the genus[1]. Another says that it is quite hardy in Britain[11] whilst a third says that it can tolerate temperatures down to about -7°c[200]. A specimen planted at Kew in 1987 was 2½ metres tall and looking very healthy in August 1999[K]. Trees are relatively slow-growing in the wild[229].

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Propagation

Seed - requires some cold stratification. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in a cold frame in mid-winter. Move to a greenhouse in early spring. The seed should germinate in late spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in early summer. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Fairly good percentage[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Sapindus drummondiiWestern Soapberry11
Sapindus marginatuswingleaf soapberry10
Sapindus mukorossiChinese Soapberry, Soap Berry, Chinese Soapberry, Soapnut Tree12

 

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Author

Hook.&Arn.

Botanical References

1143200

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