Sapindus saponaria L.
Wingleaf Soapberry, Soapberry, Wild China Tree
Sapindaceae (Soapberry Family)
USDA Symbol: SASA4
The poisonous fruit, containing the alkaloid saponin, has been used as a soap substitute for washing clothes. Necklaces and buttons are made from the round dark brown seeds, and baskets are made from the wood, which splits easily. The common name, Wild China Tree, comes from the resemblance of its fruit clusters to the Chinaberry Tree (Melia azedarach), an Asian tree brought to North America for landscaping but now naturalized and considered invasive.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 50 feet tall, often much shorter.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , AZ , CO , FL , GA , HI , KS , LA , MO , MS , NM , OK , TX
Native Distribution: Southern United States from Arizona west to Kansas, Texas, and Florida; to 6,000' (1,829 m).
Native Habitat: Moist soils along streams and on limestone uplands, in and bordering hardwood forests; westward in plains and mountains, grassland, upper desert, and oak woodland zones.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Soapberry Hairstreak |
Learn more at BAMONA
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Sapindus drummondii or Rhus aromatica for Austria
May 07, 2006
Hy! I'm from Austria/Europe, and interested in some North American native plants specially. It would be great if you can help me with my two questions: Sapindus drummondii I read from different...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Sapindus saponaria in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sapindus saponaria in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sapindus saponaria
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-12-14
Research By: TWC Staff