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?

Share

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

Tuesday - May 04, 2010

From: Colorado Springs, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Trees
Title: Can a soapberry tree be grown in Colorado Springs?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Colorado Springs and I was wondering if it is possible to grow a soapberry tree here?

ANSWER:

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (western soapberry) is native to Colorado; however, this USDA Plant Profile does not show it as growing in El Paso County, but rather in two counties in extreme southeastern  Colorado, which, if we properly remember our Colorado geography, is an area of plains. Colorado Springs, in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5a to 5b and at over 6000 ft. in elevation, would probably prove a challenge to a plant that grows more profusely in Texas, Oklahoma and the southern portion of Kansas. Also, it is only considered hardy from Zones 6 to 9. In the Growing Conditions paragraph from our Native Plant Database, below, the most telling obstacle is in the last line, which we have highlighted. If you can't buy a started plant, and there are no wild plants around for seed, you could have a real problem.

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rich, limestone soils.
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. 

One possibility would be to take cuttings and attempt to root them. This would be feasible if you travel somewhere they grow naturally, and you got permission to take several cuttings. If you are interested in trying that, and we don't guarantee they will flourish, read this article from North Carolina State University Extension Plant Propagation byh Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener.  From this USDA Forest Service website on Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii, we learned that hardwood or softwood cuttings taken in May, June or July can root in 5 to 6 weeks, if properly treated. 

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

Small flowering tree for Huntingdon Beach, CA
November 07, 2008 - I am looking for a short approx. 10 foot tall tree to plant in the 2 corners of my backyard near a wall. I would like them to be thin approx. 5 feet wide where light can get through so my other plant...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive non-native Chinese wisteria
September 10, 2007 - I am going to be removing my ubiquitous chinese wisteria very soon (the method I'm going to use is undetermined). If I decide to use Round-up on the cut-stem (which may take more than one application...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Chinkapin oak from Copperas Cove TX
June 18, 2012 - I have a newly planted chinkapin oak, appx 14' tall, in the Copperas Cove TX area. It has done great for the first two weeks. Now the leaves are yellowing (June) and beginning to dry up. I water it ...
view the full question and answer

Desert willow for Florida?
March 10, 2011 - I, too, am interested in the desert willow tree. I reside in central Florida, 32162. However, Mountain States Nursery does not ship east of Texas. May I have a listing of other nurseries also. T...
view the full question and answer

Huisache blooms when freeze is over
May 02, 2005 - I live in San Antonio, TX and have heard that when the Huisache blooms all danger of frost or freeze is over. Is that true? And, this year to date (April 22, 2005) we have not seen the Huisache bloo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center