Sapindus

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Not to be confused with Soapnet.
Sapindus
Sapindus marginatus.jpg
Sapindus marginatus shrubs
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Subfamily: Sapindoideae
Genus: Sapindus
L.
Type species
Sapindus saponaria
L.[1]
Species

See text

Synonyms

Dittelasma Hook.f.[2]

Sapindus is a genus of about five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees in the Lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions in both the Old World and New World. The genus includes both deciduous and evergreen species. Members of the genus are commonly known as soapberries[3] or soapnuts because the fruit pulp is used to make soap. The generic name is derived from the Latin words sapo, meaning "soap", and indicus, meaning "of India".[4]

The leaves are alternate, 15–40 cm (5.9–15.7 in) long, pinnate (except in S. oahuensis, which has simple leaves), with 14-30 leaflets, the terminal leaflet often absent. The flowers form in large panicles, each flower small, creamy white. The fruit is a small leathery-skinned drupe 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter, yellow ripening blackish, containing one to three seeds.

Uses[edit]

The drupes (soapnuts) contain saponins which are a natural surfactant. They have been used for washing for thousands of years by native peoples in Asia as well as Native Americans.[5]

Folk medicine[edit]

Soapnuts have historically been used in folk remedies but, as the effectiveness of such treatments has not been subjected to scientific scrutiny, there is no confirmed health benefit of using soapnuts to treat any human disease.

Insecticide[edit]

Sapindus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species including Endoclita malabaricus. Kernel extracts of soapnut disrupt the activity of enzymes of larvae and pupae and inhibits the growth of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, an important vector of viral diseases.[6]

Species[edit]

S. saponaria var. drummondii berries

The number of species is disputed between different authors, particularly in North America where between one and three species are accepted.

Formerly placed here[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sapindus L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  2. ^ "Genus: Sapindus L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Sapindus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  4. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2381. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3. 
  5. ^ Austin, Daniel F. (2004). Florida Ethnobotany. CRC Press. pp. 601–603. ISBN 978-0-8493-2332-4. 
  6. ^ "Soapnut, a mosquito repellent". Down To Earth. 
  7. ^ "Taxon: Sapindus vitiensis A. Gray". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  8. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Sapindus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 

External links[edit]