Plant of the Month: Western Soapberry Tree

The Western Soapberry tree (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii) is native to New Mexico. It grows wild from Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana westward through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, and Mexico. The fruit of the Western Soapberry tree is a drupe. Mature fruits are translucent, amber colored, and contain a black seed. The mature fruit without the seed will produce a good lather with water and has been used as a soap substitute. Fruits persist on the trees through winter.

The Western Soapberry tree can grow 1′-2′ annually reaching 25′-30′ tall and wide. It grows well on the alkaline soils of New Mexico and is very tolerant of heat and drought once established.  Currently, there are no improved varieties of the Western Soapberry tree. This tree is rarely affected by disease or insect pests making it an ideal specimen tree for your yard or landscape. Soapberry leaves are pinnately compound with many smaller leaflets. Fall leaf color is a golden yellow. The Western Soapberry tree occasionally suckers and can sometimes form groves.

Western Soapberry trees produce flowers in large, cream colored clusters from late May into early July. The maturing fruit or Soapberries are then found in small clusters throughout the canopy.

The Western Soapberry tree grows best on a well-drained soil but will also grow on clay soils. Soapberry Trees are best grown with low to regular water in full sun and are Hardy to USDA Zone 5.

Experience the Soapberry Tree via Slide Show by clicking on the link below:

About Amanda Melendrez

Hi there! I'm Amanda Melendrez and I am crazy about plants and soil health! I am the daughter of the world renowned Horticulturist and Soil Scientist and the owner of Trees That Please and Soil Secrets, Michael M. Melendrez. Learn how to grow anything, no matter where you live. The mission of this blog is to spread the joy and knowledge of home gardening, agriculture and innovative soil health solutions.