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

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Saturday - May 05, 2012

From: Paris, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Diseases and Disorders, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Need to find a place to buy Western Soapberry in Paris, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Where is the closest place to purchase a Western Soapberry tree?

ANSWER:

The Western Soapberry Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry) is a handsome shade tree that is native to Texas and can grow up to 50 ft tall in optimal conditions. However there are two drawbacks: the seeds contain saponins which make them toxic (Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, and they are susceptible to the Soapberry Borer, Agrilus prionurus.

I was not successful in finding a commercial source for the tree in Northeast Texas, but these two sites on the web offer the tree for sale: forrest farm.com and oikos treecrops.com..
There are lots of sites that offer the seeds for sale to be used as a laundry detergent. The cactusstore.com sells seeds for germination. The NPIN Profile page has instructions for propagation. Be very careful if you use sulfuric acid for scarification. This link  explains scarification and describes several different methods.

A look at the USDA distribution map for Western Soapberry reveals that the tree occurs in Fannin and Hunt Counties, so you may be able to collect your own seeds. There could be even be some in Lamar County. Your AgriLife Extension Agent could probably help you with this.

 

From the Image Gallery


Western soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

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