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
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.
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.
This plant is grown as a large specimen shrub and a hedge as well as a tree. Its growth rate is moderate with supplemental water, slow without. It makes a very attractive hedge.
It is very cold-hardy, heat tolerant and drought resistant. In other words, an ideal low-maintenance plant for the southwest. Trim once a year in winter to maintain height and shape.
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 to have survived quite a few sub-zero winters for sure.
In the name of biodiversity, I have recently collected seeds and planted some in my garden. I hope that after being naturally stratified, they will grow next spring, and the originals will not be alone in my valley.
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 in Texas for Joseph Hooker.
It usually blooms in May and June and the fruits fully ripen in November. The fruits which are about about 15mm in diameter start out a green color and gradually change to a beautiful amber. When it loses its leaves in the winter, the marble sized transculent amber fruit show the black seed inside. The fruit tend to remain on the tree all winter.
It may be found on limestone bluffs, slopes and by streams in moist clay or dry limestone. It is adaptable to many types of soil and is drought tolerant. It will not grow in the shade; but, it will thrive at the sunny edge of a woodland.
When propagating, in mid-winter pre-soak the scarified seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in a cold frame . Move to a greenhouse or other protected area in early spring. The seed should germinate in late spring. Place the seedlings in individual pots when they are large enough to handle and transplant in early summer. It can be propagated by using cuttings of almost ripe wood with a heel may be taken in July or August.
Buttons and necklaces are made from the seeds. The wood is close-grained, strong and heavy. Because it splits easily into thin strips, it is used in basket making. The wood is also used as a fuel.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Oracle, Arizona Clifton, Colorado Edgewater, Colorado Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports) Olathe, Kansas Wichita, Kansas Joplin, Missouri Springfield, Missouri St Louis, Missouri Fairacres, New Mexico Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, New Mexico New Bern, North Carolina Hulbert, Oklahoma Tulsa, Oklahoma Columbia, South Carolina Austin, Texas Belton, Texas Brownsville, Texas Bulverde, Texas Colorado City, Texas Dallas, Texas Dalworthington Gardens, Texas De Leon, Texas Hickory Creek, Texas Lubbock, Texas San Antonio, Texas (2 reports) Spring Branch, Texas Temple, Texas Watauga, Texas