Soapberry, False Dogwood
|These pleasing ornamental and shade trees form dense, broad crowns. Sprays of creamy white flowers bloom in fall, followed by ochre, slightly poisonous berries that can be crushed for soap. Most subtropical and tropical species are evergreens. Hard to find in eastern nurseries, but worth seeking out, is the handsome Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii) with deeply fissured bark and brilliant yellow autumn leaves. It handles urban pollution, survives temperatures as low as 19º F, and holds up well in strong winds. An Asian species, Sapindus mukorossi has similar traits. They like full sun and take considerable drought. Adapt to many soil types, including dry, poor, stony soils, but dislike wet areas. Most tolerate some frost. Easily transplanted. Grow from seed or greenwood cuttings. Deer tend to avoid them -- all parts can be toxic if eaten.
Narrow leaf 'wings' web the stems between pairs of evergreen leaflets. 10-inch-long flower clusters lead to glossy, 3/4-inch fruits. Rough, scaly gray bark adds textural interest.
Attributes - Sapindus saponaria
Plant Type: Tree
Bloom Season: Early Winter through
Flower Color: White
Height: 20 ft. to 30 ft.
Width: 30 ft.
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial Sun
Climate: Zones 10, 11
Notes: Thrives in Dry Climates. Drought Tolerant, Low Maintenance, Poisonous.