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Friday - November 20, 2009

From: Montezuma, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Locating a Western Soapberry Tree for Montezuma IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hello, I hope you can help. We homeschool in Indiana (Dad is a native Texan, transplanted). We are looking for someone with a healthy, mature & fruiting Western Soapberry Tree..sapindus drumondii.


We're sorry, our site is not a forum, nor do we help people trade or buy plants; moreover, we never make public the names or e-mail addresses of those who contact us, for privacy reasons. 

We can refer you to our web page on Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (western soapberry), where you will notice this plant is only native to areas farther south and west than Indiana, with Arkansas the closest place where it grows. Here are the Growing Conditions from that page:

"Conditions Comments: An attractive and hardy tree, useful as a specimen or in groves. Can become a large tree in deep soil. In shallow soil it often remains a small tree. The fruits are considered to be poisonous to humans although they produce a good lather in water and are used in Mexico as a laundry soap. Both females and males have fruits; males are showier. Soapberry often suckers and form groves. Tolerant of drought, wind, heat, poor soil, air pollution and other city conditions. Not affected by disease or insects. Currently difficult to find in the nursery trade."

You could try going to our National Supplier's Directory, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. But, as noted above, you are unlikely to find it in a commercial nursery. Even if you were looking for one just to see it, we doubt any are growing wild in your area. Many of the members of the Sapindus genus are tropical plants, and while var. drummondii is not, its survival range is USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9. Parke County, Indiana is in Zone 5. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii





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