Western Soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Family: Sapindaceae (sap-in-DAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sapindus (sap-IN-dus) (Info)
Species: saponaria var. drummondii
Synonym:Sapindus drummondii

Category:

Trees

Height:

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Spacing:

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Cream/Tan

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:

Deciduous

Good Fall Color

Other details:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow after last frost

From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Oracle, Arizona

Clifton, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)

Olathe, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas

Joplin, Missouri

Saint Louis, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Fairacres, New Mexico

New Bern, North Carolina

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Columbia, South Carolina

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Belton, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Bulverde, Texas

Colorado City, Texas

Crockett, Texas

Dallas, Texas

De Leon, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Lubbock, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Southlake, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Temple, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

4
positives
2
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On Oct 3, 2012, OfficeCopy from Columbia, SC wrote:

A soapberry tree came with the house (a little too close to the house if truth be told). It took sending a sample to the Univ. SC Herbarium for me to figure out what it is, it being quite unusual here. I love it. Great form (like a smaller version of Chinese pistache). Nice, but not outstanding fall color (yellow). Little mess. Attractive and unusual fruit. The only negative is that it sends up water sprouts from the horizontal limbs.

Negative

On May 21, 2011, bcturner from Colorado City, TX wrote:

This plant is taking over my goat pasture and since it can be toxic, I'm trying to get rid of it, without much luck. Help!! To those of you who want some-ya'll come and get it.

Positive

On Mar 28, 2008, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:

I am growing several of these from seed. I soaked them in warm water for a day, rubbed off the outer, wrinkly membrane, scratched them on the concrete, just enough so I could see a tiny dot of white from the embryo, then soaked them in water for another 2 days....half I put in a wet paper towel in a baggie on top of the fridge, the other half I put into 4-inch pots in the sun, mostly covered with dirt. About 50% are coming up within days of scarification, both in the pots and in the baggie.

Neutral

On Jun 20, 2007, syswriter from Oracle, AZ wrote:

This plant is a tree that spreads by rhizomes and will form a thicket. Very drought resistant, but invasive in moist areas.

Positive

On Feb 13, 2006, valf from Joplin, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

Very drought resistant. Needs sun. Graceful. Attractive in all seasons and great for wildlife. Attracts butterflies.

Positive

On Nov 1, 2005, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

This tree was one of the stepping stones to my botanical passion. There is one growing on a road that used to be a good bike shortcut when I was a kid. I saw this tree and noted it's hard-to-define texture. It has more leaflets (in even numbers, not ending in a single leaf.) than an ash (a Very overused tree) and does not look like a willow. I also noticed the setting sun shining through the transparent dried amber fruits, and these glowed like little lights.

The tree I know of is very spherical and 20-30 feet tall. It is on the fenceline of an antique house that has never seemed to have residents to water the yard. -Very drought tolerant in our alkaline clay soil. There may be another one half it's size nearby, but beyond that, they exist alone. They are old enough ... read more

Neutral

On Jul 20, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Another common name for this plant is Jaboncillo. I have not grown this plant so I am unable to give it a rating. Some people call it a "trash tree". In its natural habitat, I find it quite attractive all year. Containing a soaplike substance called saponin, a natural detergent, the fruits have been used as a substitute for soap. The soap is obtained from the fruit by rubbing the fruit in water and is used in Mexico for washing clothes. The fruit can be dried and stored for later use. Some people sustain a skin rash from this substance so be careful if using the fruit for this purpose.. The fruits are poisonous and should not be eaten. Sapindus in Latin means "soap of the Indes" and saponaria refers to the saponin found in the fruit; drummondii honors Thomas Drummond, who collected plants... read more