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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Sapindus' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-02-22.


  • Sapindaceae

Common Names

  • Soapberry

Species in genus


Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Attached singly along the axis not in pairs or whorls.
Fleshy outgrowth produced at the base of a seed (as in e.g. Taxus). Often acts to attract animal seed-dispersal agents.
Female reproductive organ of a flower. Composed of ovary style and stigma. Typically several carpels are fused together in each flower (syncarpous). The number of them can be of taxonomic significance; it can often be assessed by counting the stigma branches or the chambers in the fruit.
A fleshy dehiscent or indehiscent fruit with one to several seeds each enclosed in a hard endocarp (the stone).
With an unbroken margin.
A group of genera more closely related to each other than to genera in other families. Names of families are identified by the suffix ‘-aceae’ (e.g. Myrtaceae) with a few traditional exceptions (e.g. Leguminosae).
Odd-pinnate; (of a compound leaf) with a central rachis and an uneven number of leaflets due to the presence of a terminal leaflet. (Cf. paripinnate.)
(of a leaf) Unlobed or undivided.
(in a flower) The part of the carpel that receives pollen and on which it germinates. May be at the tip of a short or long style or may be reduced to a stigmatic surface at the apex of the ovary.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
Having only male or female organs in a flower.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Sapindus' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-02-22.

A genus of about thirteen species of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs in both the Old and New Worlds, mostly confined to the tropics and subtropics. Leaves alternate, usually even-pinnate, rarely simple, leaflets entire. Flowers small, unisexual or effectively so, in panicles. Sepals and petals four or five. Stamens eight or ten, inserted inside a fleshy ring-shaped disk. Ovary superior, three-celled, but usually only one carpel developing; style one, with a lobed stigma. Fruit drupe-like. The flesh of the fruits is rich in saponin, which causes it to lather in water, whence the generic name, from Sapo indicus or Indian soap, the fruits of the type-species, S. saponaria L, being used as soap in the West Indies; the specific epithet also refers to this property. The fruits of other species are put to the same use in some parts of the world.

The large family Sapindaceae is mostly tropical and subtropical. For other genera of the family treated in this work, see Koelreuteria and Xanthoceras. An economically important member of the family is Litchi sinensis, which is the source of the fruit known as lychee. The edible part, of grape-like taste and consistency, is an aril produced by the single small seed; the fruits themselves have a brittle, warty covering.