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Soapwort
Caryophyllaceae
Saponaria officinalis


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Caryophyllaceae Family

Saponaria Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Bouncing Bet, bruisewort, farewell summer, fuller’s herb, joe run by the street, hedge pink, dog’s clove, old maids pink, soaproot


Location

Native to Europe and the Middle East. Growing in open unused areas, along roadsides and railroad tracks, and waste grounds throughout the U.S.

Physical Description
Soapwort is an extremely hardy perennial herb that can be invasive. It spreads through the creeping efforts of the rhizomatous rootstock. It can reach 2-3 feet tall and has bright-green, oval leaves which are surmounted by clusters of petite pink flowers.
A very common and familiar weed of summer and autumn throughout the United States, bouncing bet is found in colonies along roadsides and railroad tracks, in meadows, and waste areas. It is a knee-high, spreading, perennial weed with jointed stems. The leaves are opposite, simple, toothless, and slightly hairy. Phlox-like, flat-topped flower clusters consist of white or pinkish-white to red blossoms that have five petals, each with a slight notch at the tip.




Compare Species
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Caryophyllaceae
Caryophyllales
Caryophyllales
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

During the Middle Ages, Dominican and Franciscan monks brought soapwort from northern Europe to England as “a gift of God intended to keep them clean.”

Bouncing Bet came to America with the English colonists. It was use for a cleaner of wool, many museums still use a solution of Bouncing Bet to clean old textiles

All parts of the plant can be used for making a soap-like decoction: however, the roots have the highest concentration of saponin. The Syrians used it for washing wool products while the Swiss used it to bathe their sheep before shearing. Medieval fullers would use the soapwort during the finishing process for cloth

Medicinal Uses: In the past, it was used as a medicinal herb for treating gout, rheumatism, eczema, cold sores, boils, and acne.

Cosmetic Uses: Shampoos can be made by crushing the plant and soaking in hot water to create a mild decoction. Jekka McVicar’s recipe calls for 2 large handfuls of fresh stems roughly chopped and 3 cups of water. Combine the soapwort and water and heat until sudsy. She recommends not boiling the plant as the heat decomposes the active ingredients. However other recipes recommend boiling it. (McVicar 178). It must be used immediately as it doesn’t store well.

Warning: Bouncing bet contains saponins, substances that when mixed with water produce a soap-like foam. These saponins produce gastrointestinal irritation upon ingestion. Animals will typically avoid eating this plant, however they may ingest it if extremely hungry and no better feed is available, or if parts of the plant (especially the seeds or the roots) are incorporated into prepared feeds. The plant needs to be consumed for several days before toxic signs are noted, which can include: mild depression, vomiting (in those species that can vomit), abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may become bloody). Overall, this toxicosis is not encountered frequently.



Soapwort




Soapwort


Comment: Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis

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