- Sapindus Mukorossi Soap Nuts / Soap Berries SEEDS (25) – From USDA Certified Organic Soap Nuts
- How to Grow Your Own Soapberry Tree
- Survival Plant Profile: Florida Soapberry or Soap Nut Tree
- Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
- Western Soapberry
Sapindus Mukorossi Soap Nuts / Soap Berries SEEDS (25) – From USDA Certified Organic Soap Nuts
These are seeds only. – Not to be confused with soap nuts or soap berries used for producing soap, detergents, skin or hair care products, etc. No shells, pulp, or skins are included. The actual soap nut “seed” does not produce any soaping effect as has been erroneously stated online. We DO NOT guarantee that planting these will produce a tree. We sell them as a novelty item only.
Soap nuts are more appropriately called a soap berry. To visualize a soapberry, think of a golden colored cherry while still on the tree – they are very similar type fruits in appearance. Being more specific, the soap nut that we use for cleaning purposes is actually the pulp and skin of the dried soap berry. The seed is not used for cleaning.
A fully mature mukorossi tree can reach a height of ~80 ft. It can live for up to 90 years. Its has a large, lush umbrella shaped canopy formed from elongated shaped leaves. By any standard, it is a magnificent and impressive tree!
Excellent info about Soap Nut trees can also be found at www.SoapNuts.pro.
Plant a SoapNut/Soapberry tree today for a cleaner tomorrow
Rather than continue to import SoapNuts, we think it’s important to plan for the future and not only grow our own SoapNuts for the future but to encourage you to do the same.
We offer two varieties of SoapNut tree seeds; The SoapNut Tree (Sapindus mukorossi) and the Soapberry Tree (Sapindus saponaria). The Sapindus Saponaria seeds are currently out of stock.
The SoapNut tree (mukorossi) produces the same berries as we sell, the berries from this tree contain superior sapion concentrations and are a larger fruit, these trees take 9-10 years to produce fruit. This is the easier tree to germinate but not suitable for frosty zones.
The Western Soapberry (saponaria) tree is a smaller tree and grows well in coastal areas, it takes 3 years to produce the SoapNut berries and is a smaller compact tree. The berries contain less sapion and are not of quality for retailing as a cleaner. This tree is more hardy than the soapnut tree.
We have provided fact sheets about each variety along with germination tips;
SoapNut Tree (SAPINDUS mukorossi)
Soapberry Tree (SAPINDUS saponaria) – currently out of stock!
Growing a Soapnut tree is easy! Happy planting.
How to Grow Your Own Soapberry Tree
by Ashley Rodriguez August 04, 2016 2 Comments
Imagine yourself growing your own soap in your backyard.
Soapberry, or soap nut, trees give fruit to a berry which contains a natural, soap-like surfactant called saponins. These berries have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures, if you’d like to learn more about the origins of the soapberry, you can read our article The Origin of Soapberry.
Soapberry trees are more commonly found in warm temperate climates, as well as tropical regions. They can be found in places like India, China, Hawaii and Florida. Soap nut trees are perennial plants, which means they live for more than two years, and they grow to about 20-30 feet.
If you want to nurture yourself (and your family) or put your green thumb to use, follow these easy-to-follow steps to grow your own soapberry tree:
1. First, you must prepare the seed of the soap nut and weaken its coat. Rub the surface of it with fine-grit general purpose sandpaper, then soak it in warm water for 24 hours. The soapberry mala in our store can actually be used for this fun project.
2. While you wait, you can begin preparing the pot you will plant the seed in. Keep in mind that this plant grows in warmer climates.Fill your pot with germinating soil, and plant the seed about an inch deep in the soil. We recommend you plant one seed per pot.
3. Make sure to maintain the soil moist, but don’t overdo it. Let the soil dry between each time you water the plant.
4. It usually takes about 1-3 months for the seedlings to germinate in warmer climates. Once the seedling has sprouted, remove the seedling’s root ball from the pot. Choose a spot in your yard where you’d like to plant the seedling and dig a hole deep to spread out its roots with your fingers.
5. Mix the potting soil with the ground soil and saturate the soil with water to reduce any air pockets.
6. To make sure your soapberry sapling stays healthy, you can use fertilizer, being sure to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. After being planted, it takes about 9-10 years to produce soapberries.
Once your soapberry tree produces the soapberries, you can collect them and leave them out to dry in the sun on a canvas. Before storing or using the berry, remove the seed.
September 30, 2018
Wow this sounds awesome! I live in florida to and have quite the backyard garden so this will be perfect to start another project. But like the other comment mentioned…you use sandpaper on the outer hard shell to soften it up and then allow it to soak? You want access to the innet shell and scraping the outer shell allows the water to penetrate inside the seed faster correct?
March 04, 2017
Just so I am clear, You rough up the shell casing of the seed? Not the seed itself I am guessing…
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Survival Plant Profile: Florida Soapberry or Soap Nut Tree
If you’re a back-to-the-land sort or an alternative health, organic-market-shopping type, or a plant lover… you may have come across these trees before.
The Florida soapberry (Sapindus saponaria) is a native tree, though it’s only seen in the middle of the state when planted on purpose. I’ve been told by Dave Chiappinni of Chiappinni Native Farm and Nursery that its only common range in the state is scattered across a few islands on the coast.
According to UF, it’s hardy to USDA Growing Zone 10. This is demonstrably false since there are large specimens growing in Gainesville and bearing fruit quite happily right at the edge of USDA zone 8.
What’s so great about this tree? It grows soap.
Soap on a tree.
For preppers, homesteaders and the cheap, this is good news.
The fruit, erroneously called a “soap nut”, is loaded with saponins. Dry them (and pit them if you like) and they can be used to wash your hands or do a load of laundry when placed in a mesh bag. They last quite a few washings, too.
Soapberry fruit on the tree.
I first heard that the trees take 8 years or longer to produce fruit when grown from seed, however my friend Alex Ojeda of Permaculture Jax visited last week and told me that his soapberry trees bore fruit only three years after germination.
Germination is easy with soapberry trees, fortunately. I scarified a bunch of seeds and planted them in little pots this spring and got almost a 100% germination rate. When they’re bigger, they’ll be perfect for planting two or three at a time out in the yard.
Why do I say two or three? Well, like many uncommonly cultivated species, the soapberry needs a mate for pollination. Trees come in male, female and hermaphroditic varieties. Only females and hermaphrodites will bear soap nuts. If you plant three, chances are really good that at least one or two of them will fruit for you.
I’ve planted five in my yard so far. I want lots and lots of soap.
Because really… won’t the Econopocalypse be better when you can take a nice shower between bouts of killing diseased and drug-crazed looters with a broken shovel?
Soapberry trees grow tall with an airy, open habit. In fact, they look a lot like the despised Chinaberry tree that’s invaded railroad tracks and roadsides across the state, though unlike Chinaberry they have almost white bark. They’re quite attractive.
If you have a small yard, I recommend planting three in a tight triangle so they grow like a triple-trunked tree and will pollinate each other without taking up too much space. That’s what I did in my backyard, spacing them about 6′ apart… though you could probably plant three in the same hole about 18″ apart and it would look really cool.
Growing soapberry is easy. Soap nut trees are tolerant of poor soil and grow rather quickly into airy, lovely trees that don’t cast particularly dense shade. Tuck some in on the edge of your food forest!
Just don’t eat them – the seeds are reputedly poisonous.
That’s a small downside on an otherwise excellent survival crop. Every prepper, gardener, homesteader and homemaker in Florida should have their own soap berry trees.
Name: Florida soapberry/Soap nut tree
Latin Name: Sapindus saponaria
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Exposure: Full sun
Part Used: Dried fruit
Taste: Don’t eat them unless you say a REALLY bad word. Seeds poisonous.
Method of preparation: Dry and use to wash body/clothing
Ease of growing: Easy
Support this site – buy David’s book Create Your Own Florida Food Forest on Amazon!
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Saturday – May 05, 2012
From: Paris, TX
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Diseases and Disorders, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Need to find a place to buy Western Soapberry in Paris, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills
Where is the closest place to purchase a Western Soapberry tree?
The Western Soapberry Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry) is a handsome shade tree that is native to Texas and can grow up to 50 ft tall in optimal conditions. However there are two drawbacks: the seeds contain saponins which make them toxic (Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, and they are susceptible to the Soapberry Borer, Agrilus prionurus.
I was not successful in finding a commercial source for the tree in Northeast Texas, but these two sites on the web offer the tree for sale: forrest farm.com and oikos treecrops.com..
There are lots of sites that offer the seeds for sale to be used as a laundry detergent. The cactusstore.com sells seeds for germination. The NPIN Profile page has instructions for propagation. Be very careful if you use sulfuric acid for scarification. This link explains scarification and describes several different methods.
A look at the USDA distribution map for Western Soapberry reveals that the tree occurs in Fannin and Hunt Counties, so you may be able to collect your own seeds. There could be even be some in Lamar County. Your AgriLife Extension Agent could probably help you with this.
From the Image Gallery
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii
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The western soapberry tree (Sapindus drummondii) is a great medium sized tree for dry areas. Native to the southern U.S., mainly Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, as well as Mexico, this tree produces berries that can be used for soap. The soapberry tree has small, round fruit which contain the a poisonous chemical called saponin, which is toxic to humans. However, the berries also produce a soapy lather when rubbed together in water and is used for clothes washing in parts of Mexico.
Soapberry fruit in winter
The soapberry tree can be found growing in many areas of the southern Great Plains. The national champion is located at John Deere Headquarters outside of Kansas City, KS. I first found this tree in my hometown of Concordia, KS. Soapberry grows 15 to 50 feet tall and wide, with a few exceptions.
Soapberry tree outside of Concordia, KS
The wood of the soapberry is easily split, making it valuable for basket making. Though the fruit is poisonous, the seeds are used to make wooden buttons. Birds are also fond of the fruit, making this species useful for attracting birds to the garden. It is also the larval host for the Soapberry Hairstreak Butterfly.
Soapberry leaves and fruit
Soapberry trees prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are extremely drought tolerant once established and can grow in hot, dry spots in the landscape. They are good for shade or a wildlife friendly garden.
Keep on gardening!
• Fast growing South American tree
• Produces berries in 3 years
• The berries contain saponins which produce a soapy lather in water
• Produces small white flowers prior to producing brown fruits
• Grows to a height of 9 metres, a good shade tree in a low maintenance garden
• Grows well in coastal areas, are tolerant of draught, wind, sandy soils, loamy, clay, moist, acidic and alkaline conditions
• Likes a position in full sun/partial sun
The Soapberry tree is an evergreen that reaches the height of 9 metres. It grows well in coastal areas and can tolerate wind, drought and infertile soils.
This tree is known as the Western Soapberry which grows in acidic, alkaline, drought tolerant, loamy, moist, sandy, well drained, and clay soils.
Butterflies and bees love this tree which is said to resemble a large Mimosa tree. It grows well in full sun, partial shade and produces a showy cluster of small white flowers at the tip of a current year’s shoot. The fruit is an orange/brown colour and looks leathery. The berries will stay on the tree for months and look attractive.
To use the ripe berry for washing, sun dry it, then crack the shell to remove the seed. Use the berry shell for washing and plant the seed.
Plant as soon as you receive your seeds. Do not store.
1. You have to weaken the seeds coat. Use a nail file or sand paper to scarify. If you find it too tough, you can hammer the seed. Please be careful and do not to crush the seed. We just want to weaken the seed coat.
2. Soak the seed overnight in warm/hot water. Do not use boiled water, let it sit for 5 minutes. Then fill up a vacuum-insulated thermos with the seeds and water, and let it soak for 24 hours. The thermos will keep the water warm throughout that period. The soaking process is particularly important, as the water is what activates the germination.
3. Plant the seeds (best time of the year spring to early summer). Use good potting soil (not dirt – good quality potting/germinating soil). Plan the seeds at a depth of 2.5cm. Choose a pot that is deep, as SoapNut trees send down vertical tap roots. Put the pot(s) in a place where it will not be in direct sun, and where it can catch some rainfall. Water the pots if the soil starts to dry, but don’t water if it is still moist (that can promote fungal growth.) Also, avoid fertilizing the soil before germination occurs – high levels of nitrogen in the soil can actually inhibit germination in general.
4. Wait and watch the seeds growing. The germination process can take 1 to 3 months (in summer months). In cooler months a little more patience will be needed, you will need to ensure that the seed mix is warm and provide sufficient light.
5. Look after your trees.
In time the seed will swell in size, almost to double its original size and forms a white powder coating around the seed coating. Don’t be concerned when you see this, it is a good sign that the seedling is about to emerge.
As soon as the seedling emerges, you will need to re-pot into a large container or plant bag to protect the very long main root. This is a sub-tropical/tropical plant that loves rain, so keep in a sunny spot and water regularly.