Herb: Western Soapberry


Latin name: Sapindus drummondii


Synonyms: Sapindus saponaria drummondii


Family: Sapindaceae



Medicinal use of Western Soapberry:

The fruit is antirheumatic and febrifuge. It is used in the treatment of kidney diseases. A poultice of the sap has been used to treat wounds.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
12 m
(39 feet)

Flovering:
May to
June

Habitat of the herb:

Limestone bluffs, slopes and by streams, in moist clay or dry limestone. Mexican valleys from the upper desert to the woodland zones.

Edible parts of Western Soapberry:

Fruit. No more details from this report but another report says that it is poisonous. The berry-like fruits have a leathery coat that contains poisonous saponins. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter and often hangs on the tree until the following spring.

Other uses of the herb:

A soap is obtained from the fruit by rubbing the fruit in water. Used in Mexico for washing clothes. The fruit can be dried and stored for later use. Buttons and necklaces are made from the seed. Wood - heavy, strong and close-grained. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. It splits easily into thin strips and is often used in basket making, it is also used as a fuel.

Propagation of Western Soapberry:

Seed - requires some cold stratification. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in a cold frame in mid-winter. Move to a greenhouse in early spring. The seed should germinate in late spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in early summer. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Fairly good percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Limestone bluffs, slopes and by streams, in moist clay or dry limestone. Mexican valleys from the upper desert to the woodland zones.

Known hazards of Sapindus drummondii:

The seed is poisonous. The fruit is poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.