Herb: Soap Tree

Latin name: Gymnocladus chinensis

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Soap Tree:

Seed - cooked.

Description of the plant:


12 m
(39 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Plains and foothills to 1200 metres.

Other uses of Soap Tree:

The fruit is high in saponins and is used as a soap for washing fabrics and the body. Wood - hard, durable, finishes to a fine lustre. It is used for cabinet making.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. The seed can also be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. Scarification and pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water, especially if it has been stored, will improve germination. Make sure the seed has swollen after soaking, soak it again if it has not and, if it still does not swell, try filing away some of the seedcoat but be careful not to damage the embryo. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into fairly deep individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection against the cold for their first couple of winters outdoors Root cuttings 4cm long and 1cm thick in a greenhouse in December. Plant the roots horizontally in pots. Good percentage.

Cultivation of Soap Tree:

Plains and foothills to 1200 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Gymnocladus chinensis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.