Herb: Soapberry

Latin name: Sapindus marginatus

Family: Sapindaceae

Edible parts of Soapberry:

Fruit. The fruit is eaten by native North American Indians, though most white people find it repulsive.

Description of the plant:


15 m
(49 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Hammocks near the coast.

Other uses of Soapberry:

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. Wood - heavy, strong, close-grained, splits easily. It splits easily into thin strips and is often used in basket making.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Soapberry:

Hammocks near the coast.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Sapindus marginatus:

The seed is poisonous. The fruit is poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.