soapberry Sapindaceae Sapindus
saponaria L. symbol: SASA4
Leaf: Alternate, pinnately compound, 8 to 13 inches long, 9 to 15 lance-shaped, inequilateral, pointed leaflet (each 2 to 3 inches long), yellow-green above, slightly fuzzy beneath.
Flower: Small, creamy yellow-green in terminal, spike-shaped cluster, 5 to 7 inches long, appearing in late spring.
Fruit: Translucent, light orange to yellow-brown, in grape like clusters, 1/3 to 1/2 inch across, ripen in fall and persist all winter but become darker.
Twig: Moderately stout, light yellow-green but turning gray-brown, fuzzy; buds round, fuzzy and darker than twig; leaf scar shield-shaped.
Bark: Initially smooth and gray-brown, later becoming scaly with gray ridges and reddish brown patches.
Form: A small tree with a short trunk and a round crown, reaches up to 40 feet tall.
Looks like: Chinaberry - Chinese pistache
Additional Range Information: Sapindus saponaria is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting soapberry.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson