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Sapindus marginatus.jpg
Sapindus marginatus shrubs
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Subfamily: Sapindoideae
Genus: Sapindus
Type species
Sapindus saponaria
L. [1]

See text


DittelasmaHook.f. [2]

Sapindus is a genus of about five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees in the Lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the world. The genus includes both deciduous and evergreen species. Members of the genus are commonly known as soapberries [3] or soapnuts because the fruit pulp is used to make soap. The generic name is derived from the Latin words sapo, meaning "soap", and indicus, meaning "of India". [4]


The leaves are alternate, 15–40 cm (5.9–15.7 in) long, pinnate (except in S. oahuensis, which has simple leaves), with 14-30 leaflets, the terminal leaflet often absent. The flowers form in large panicles, each flower small, creamy white. The fruit is a small leathery-skinned drupe 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter, yellow ripening blackish, containing one to three seeds.


Soapnut is used with natural dyes to color the yarn of Tasar silk. Soapnut as a natural dye.jpg
Soapnut is used with natural dyes to color the yarn of Tasar silk.
Sapindus emarginatus leaves, India Sapindus emarginatus in Hyderabad W IMG 4650.jpg
Sapindus emarginatus leaves, India

The drupes (soapnuts) contain saponins, which have surfactant properties, having been used for washing by ancient Asian people and Native Americans. [5]

Folk medicine

Soapnuts have historically been used in folk remedies, [6] but, as the effectiveness of such treatments has not been subjected to scientific scrutiny, there are no confirmed health benefits of using soapnuts to treat any human disease. The soapnut contains saponins, which are under laboratory research for their potential antimicrobial properties. [6]


Sapindus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species including Endoclita malabaricus. Kernel extracts of soapnut disrupt the activity of enzymes of larvae and pupae and inhibits the growth of the mosquito Aedes aegypti , an important vector of viral diseases. [7]

Dyeing agent

Soapnut is used as a dyeing agent for coloring the yarn of Tussar silk and cotton. [8]


Sapindus emarginatus drupes in Hyderabad, India Sapindus emarginatus in Hyderabad W2 IMG 4648.jpg
Sapindus emarginatus drupes in Hyderabad, India
S. saponaria var. drummondii berries Western Soapberry.jpg
S. saponaria var. drummondii berries

The number of species is disputed between different authors, particularly in North America where between one and three species are accepted.

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<i>Pterocarpus</i> genus of plants

Pterocarpus is a pantropical genus of trees in the family Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae, and was recently assigned to the informal monophyletic Pterocarpus clade within the Dalbergieae. Most species of Pterocarpus yield valuable timber traded as padauk ; other common names are mukwa or narra. P. santalinus also yields the most precious rosewood in China known as Zitan. The wood from the narra tree and the Burmese padauk tree is marketed as amboyna when it has grown in the burl form. The scientific name is Latinized Ancient Greek and means "wing fruit", referring to the unusual shape of the seed pods in this genus.

Sapindaceae Family of flowering plants

The Sapindaceae are a family of flowering plants in the order Sapindales known as the soapberry family. It contains 138 genera and 1858 accepted species. Examples include horse chestnut, maples, ackee and lychee.

Saponin class of chemical compounds

Saponins a class of chemical compounds found in particular abundance in various plant species. More specifically, they are amphipathic glycosides grouped phenomenologically by the soap-like foam they produce when shaken in aqueous solutions, and structurally by having one or more hydrophilic glycone moieties combined with a lipophilic triterpene or steroid derivative.

<i>Saponaria officinalis</i> Species of plant

Saponaria officinalis is a common perennial plant from the family Caryophyllaceae. This plant has many common names, including common soapwort, bouncing-bet, crow soap, wild sweet William, and soapweed. There are about 20 species of soapworts altogether.

<i>Guarea</i> genus of plants

Guarea is a genus of evergreen trees in the family Meliaceae, native to tropical Africa and Central and South America. They are large trees 20–45 m tall, with a trunk over 1 m diameter, often buttressed at the base. The leaves are pinnate, with 4–6 pairs of leaflets, the terminal leaflet present. The flowers are produced in loose inflorescences, each flower small, with 4–5 yellowish petals. The fruit is a four or five-valved capsule, containing several seeds, each surrounded by a yellow-orange fleshy aril; the seeds are dispersed by hornbills and monkeys which eat the aril.

<i>Malpighia</i> genus of plants

Malpighia is a genus of flowering plants in the nance family, Malpighiaceae. It contains about 45 species of shrubs or small trees, all of which are native to the American tropics. The generic name honours Marcello Malpighi, a 17th-century Italian physician and botanist. The species grow to 1–6 m (3.3–19.7 ft) tall, with a dense, often thorny crown. The leaves are evergreen, simple, 0.5–15 cm (0.20–5.91 in) long, with an entire or serrated margin. The flowers are solitary or in umbels of two to several together, each flower 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, with five white, pink, red, or purple petals. The fruit is a red, orange, or purple drupe, containing two or three hard seeds. M. emarginata is cultivated for its sweet and juicy fruits, which are very rich in vitamin C.

<i>Harpullia</i> genus of plants

Harpullia is a genus of about 27 species of small to medium-sized rainforest trees from the family Sapindaceae. They have a wide distribution ranging from India eastwards through Malesia, Papuasia and Australasia to the Pacific Islands. They grow naturally usually in or on the margins of rainforests or associated vegetation.

<i>Jagera</i> (plant) genus of plants

Jagera is a genus of 4 species of forest trees known to science, constituting part of the plant family Sapindaceae.

<i>Grewia</i> genus of plants

The large flowering plant genus Grewia is today placed by most authors in the mallow family Malvaceae, in the expanded sense as proposed by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Formerly, Grewia was placed in either the family Tiliaceae or the Sparrmanniaceae. However, these were both not monophyletic with respect to other Malvales - as already indicated by the uncertainties surrounding placement of Grewia and similar genera - and have thus been merged into the Malvaceae. Together with the bulk of the former Sparrmanniaceae, Grewia is in the subfamily Grewioideae and therein the tribe Grewieae, of which it is the type genus.

<i>Sapindus oahuensis</i> species of plant

Sapindus oahuensis is a species of tree in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is endemic to Hawaii, where it is limited to Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. Its common names include Āulu, Oahu soapberry, alulu, kaulu, and lonomea.

<i>Sapindus saponaria</i> species of plant

Sapindus saponaria is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree native to the Americas. Common names include wingleaf soapberry, western soapberry, jaboncillo, sulluku and manele and a'e (Hawaiian). Its genus name, "Sapindus", comes from the Latin, meaning Indian soap, and its specific epithet means "soapy."

<i>Lepisanthes tetraphylla</i> species of plant

Lepisanthes tetraphylla is a tree of India and Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries.

<i>Connarus</i> genus of plants

Connarus is a genus of plants in the family Connaraceae.

<i>Sapindus mukorossi</i> species of plant

Sapindus mukorossi is a species of tree in the family Sapindaceae. The fruit is commonly known as Indian soapberry or washnut, and like other species in the genus Sapindus, it is called soapberry. It is also a native of Western coastal Maharashtra – Konkan, and Goa in India. Sapindus mukorrossi, known as the ritha or reetha tree in India (Hindi) and Nepal, is a deciduous tree that is grown in the lower foothills and midhills of the Himalayans, up to altitudes of 4000 feet. It is tolerant to reasonably poor soil, can be planted around farmers’ homes, and one Ritha tree can produce 30–35 kg of fruit per year.

Sapindoideae subfamily of plants

Sapindoideae is a subfamily of flowering plants in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae.


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  2. "Genus: Sapindus L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  3. 1 2 "Sapindus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System . Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  4. Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2381. ISBN   978-0-8493-2678-3.
  5. Austin, Daniel F. (2004). Florida Ethnobotany. CRC Press. pp. 601–603. ISBN   978-0-8493-2332-4.
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  7. "Soapnut, a mosquito repellent". Down To Earth.
  8. Deshmukh A, Bansal L (2014). "Sapindus emarginatus Vahl as a natural scouring agent in dyeing of cotton with Carissa carandas leaf extract" (PDF). BioLife. 2 (2): 599–604.
  9. "Sapindus vitiensis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  10. 1 2 "GRIN Species Records of Sapindus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2010-11-01.