En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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





More Trees Questions

Leaves dropping from a potted Mesquite
August 11, 2014 - I have a Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite) that I purchased at a nursery in Alpine, TX just a few miles away from me. It was a in nursery style black plastic container. The mesquite is perhaps a...
view the full question and answer

Grafting Pecan Trees
July 05, 2013 - I have planted two pecan nuts and now they are about 4 feet tall trees, they have not been grafted but can I graft one of the trees to the other and vice versa and expect pecans from then, they are he...
view the full question and answer

Weeping Willow Problem in Texas
September 04, 2014 - Our weeping willow's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. We are also seeing some brown, gnarly looking pods on some of the stems can you tell us what's happening?
view the full question and answer

Persimmon trunk grown around fence rail in Austin
November 08, 2012 - I have a Texas Persimmon in my backyard that is about 12-15 feet tall. It's been growing next to a chain-link fence and over the years, the top rail of the fence has cut into the bark on the trunk. A...
view the full question and answer

Smaller trees for limited space in yard in Austin
March 29, 2011 - Follow up to "I have a choice of three shade trees from the city of Austin. They are Live Oak, Elm, Cedar. Although I am happy to have a free tree, I think the choices are not the best for my home. I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center