February 1, 2023
Saponaria officinalis

Saponaria officinalis

Saponaria officinalis or Soapwort has a long list of names it is commonly called, which I will include at the bottom of this page. Its Latin name also is derived from ‘Sapo’ or Soap, which refers to saponin found in the roots. This is a toxic substance but produce lather when mixed with water.

Saponaria officinalis is native to Europe, Asia, and Western Siberia, but it can be found in North America where it seems to be invasive. It is a rhizomatous perennial, and part of the Caryophyllaceae family of plants. It is clump-forming with upright stems.

Saponaria officinalis
Saponaria officinalis or Soapwort or Bouncing-Bet

Saponaria officinalis grows to be 70cm or 2.5ft. It has opposite leaves on the stems which are unbranched. Saponaria officinalis is a rhizomatous perennial. It flowers in the summer.

It produces pink shades of flowers that open in the evening and have had a life of three days. They are fragrant and more scented at night. They release pollen on the second night and stigma develops to its final position on the third night.

How to grow Saponaria officinalis:

Grow Saponaria officinalis in the sun. Plant it in average to moderately fertile and well-drained soil which is slightly alkaline. It will tolerate poor soil. Propagate by seed or division. No pruning is necessary. Watch out for slugs and snails otherwise, it is disease-free. The nectar attracts butterflies and bees, but it is deer resistant. Deadhead the flowers for a longer blooming season.

Saponaria officinalis
Saponaria officinalis
Saponaria officinalis
Saponaria officinalis

They use this plant as a mild soap especially for gentle fabrics like wool. To produce the detergent or the soap you can boil the root and the leaves and then strain it. Saponaria officinalis could be toxic if digested, however, they use it as an emulsifier for making tahini and in the middle east also for making halva.

Following are a variety of common names associated with Saponaria officinalis:

Boston pink
Chimney pink 
Common Soapwort 
Crow Soap 
Devil in a Bush 
Farewell to Summer 
Fuller’s Herb 
Hedge Pink 
Lady by the Gate 
London Pride 
Mock Gilliflower 
Old Maid’s Pink 
Old Maid’s Slipper 
Soap Plant 
Soap Root 
Soap Weed
Soapwort Gentian 
Sweet Betty 
Wild Sweet William 
Wood Phlox 
World’s Wonder

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