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Sapindus saponaria

Pronunciation: Sap-in-dus sap-oh-nair-ee-uh
Family: Sapindaceae (soapberry family)
Common Name: Soapberry, soapnut, florida soapberry, tropical soapberry
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 30-40'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The showy flower cluster is borne at the tip of a current year's shoot, and spells the end of elongation for that particular shoot. The fruit is a weird looking orange-brown, partially translucent, globular, leathery, drupelike affair (called a soap nut) about 3/4 in (2 cm) across. Each fruit contains a single black seed. The fruits often persist on the tree for months and can be considered attractive in their own right.
Toxic:
  • Yes
Plant Perks:
  • Medicinal
  • Drought Tolerant
Propagation: The seeds germinate readily, and seedlings are often found beneath parent trees.
Native to: Soapberry is usually found growing in calcareous woodlands, hammocks, and coastal scrub, often in the vicinity of indian shell mounds near the coast. Sapindus saponaria (including s. Marginatus) ranges from coastal south carolina through florida, the caribbean and into the central and south american tropics. A third new world species, sapindus drumondii (western soapberry) occurs in the southwestern u. S. And mexico.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - the common name and the scientific name reflect the presence of saponin in the fruits. Saponin is an antimicrobial natural detergent. When soap nuts are wetted, crushed and rubbed, or just wetted and rubbed, they produce a soaplike lather which was used as a cleaning detergent by american indians and is still used as such in tropical countries. Lately, soap nuts (especially from the chinese soapberry, s. Mukorossi) have enjoyed a renaissance among modern westerners looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical detergents. Add a handful of soap nuts in a mesh or cotton bag to the laundry in the washing machine. Soap nuts are said to be safe for wool, silk and other delicate fabrics. warning the seeds inside the fruits are said to be poisonous.
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Seed Photos
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