SOAPBERRY
File Size: 131 KB
 
Sapindus saponaria  L.
[=Sapindus drummondii Hook. & Arn.]
Riley County, Kansas
Height: To 40 feet
Family: Sapindaceae - Soapberry Family
Flowering Period:   May, June, July
Also Called: Chinaberry.
Trunks: Erect; bark grayish brown, fissures shallow, ridges short, sometimes thin plates; wood yellowish brown, hard.
Twigs: Grayish brown, brittle, pubescent; leaf scars crescent-shaped to half-round; buds brown, ovoid, .08 to .1 inch, apex obtuse, scales sparsely to densely pubescent.
Leaves: Deciduous, alternate, even-pinnately compound, 8 to 14 inches long; petiole 1.6 to 2 inches, glabrate or minutely pubescent to pubescent; leaflets (8-)12-20, alternate, elliptic-lanceolate to lanceolate, sickle-shaped, 1.6 to 3.6 inches long, .8 to 1.2 inch wide, base rounded to truncate, asymmetric, margins entire, apex acuminate, lower surface green, minutely pubescent to pubescent along main veins, upper surface green, glabrous or main vein sometimes minutely pubescent to pubescent.
Flowers: Inflorescences terminal on new growth, panicles, 10-50-flowered, pyramidal, 6 to 8 inches long, 6 to 8 inches wide; peduncles .8 to 2.8 inches long, densely covered with minute pubescence. Flowers unisexual, radially symmetric; sepals (4-)5, connate basally, lobes yellowish green, broadly ovate, .04 to .08 inch; petals (4-)5, distinct, white, .1 to .16 inch; staminate: stamens (7-)8-10, .16 to .2 inch; pistillate: pistil 1; style 1; stigma shallowly 3-lobed.
Fruit: September-October; berries, yellowish, translucent, spherical, .5 to .6 inch diameter, usually becoming wrinkled; seed 1, black, obovoid, .3 to .35 inch long, .25 to .3 inch wide, somewhat glossy, minutely pitted.
Habitat: Stream banks, rocky slopes, woodlands, prairie ravines, waste places.
Distribution: Scattered throughout Kansas
Origin: Native
Comments: Soapberry often forms thickets or colonies by root-suckers. The plants contain saponin, and the ground flesh of the fruits has been used as a soap substitute. Handling of the fruits can cause skin irritation.

Soapberry inflorescence
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry leaves
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry bark
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry bud
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry flowers
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry flowers
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Riley County, Kansas
Soapberry fruit
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Clay County, Kansas
Soapberry fruit in winter
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Riley County, Kansas