Sapindus saponaria – Wingleaf Soapberry

Sapindus saponaria - Wingleaf Soapberry, Western Soapberry (leaves and flowers)

Sapindus saponaria - Wingleaf Soapberry, Western Soapberry (fruit)

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Sapindus saponaria

Common Names: Wingleaf Soapberry, Western Soapberry

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Deciduous

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Upland, Riparian. This plant grows on upland slopes and in desert and upland canyons.

Flower Color: Creamy white

Flowering Season: Spring (late), Summer

Height: To 50 feet (15 m) tall, but usually less here

Description: The flowers are in large, branched clusters at the branch tips. The individual flowers are small and have 5 petals. The flowers are followed by round, 2/3 inch (1.5 cm) wide, one-seeded fruit with a leathery, translucent golden orange skin that darkens as it dries. The berries contain saponins and can rubbed in water to make soap for washing clothes. The leaves are green, alternate, and pinnately compound with 7 to 19 sickle-shaped lanceolate leaflets. The bark is rough and gray-brown in color.

Special Characteristics

Poisonous – The berries contain toxic saponins.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae – Soapberry family
Genus: Sapindus L. – soapberry
Species: Sapindus saponaria L. – wingleaf soapberry

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map