by Tammy Taylor
You’ll remember a few weeks ago I was delighted to find a very beneficial tree at an old abandoned homestead sight on property we had recently obtained. It was identified as a Jujube Tree and I picked much of the fruit from those trees and dehydrated Jujube fruit for use in my homemade Pumpkin Granola. They are absolutely delicious.
But recently RancherMan & I were checking on the cows in that remote pasture & I happened to look up and see what looked like the golden berries of a Soapberry Tree. Could it be??
Now I had researched this tree several years ago when I was using soapnuts in my washing machine as a more environmentally-friendly laundry option. I loved the soapnuts, they were effective at cleaning our clothes and they kept me from buying commercial laundry detergent. (Along with all the packaging that generally comes along with it.) In researching about soapnuts I read that there is a tree indigenous to the southwest called a Western Soapberry Tree. (or Sapindus saponaria ssp. drummondii ) I thought it would be so cool to run across one of these trees here on our ranch. But alas, no such trees could be found.
Do I Spy A Western Soapberry Tree??
But on this day as RancherMan & I were standing at the pond of our remote pasture property talking to customers about animals they were about to purchase, I looked up and saw those golden orbs. They looked just like the berries I had seen in my research years ago.
I’m sure our new customers must have thought I’d lost my mind! I excitedly secured some of those berries for further identification. I took close-up pictures of the bark, the berries and even the seed inside the berries. Close-up photos were taken of the alternate leaf pattern, both from the top & the underside. I sent all the photos to my extension agent. She has been invaluable to me in identifying trees in the past.
Bark of Western Soapberry Tree
Alternate leaves from the top view – Western Soapberry Tree
Alternate leaves from the underside view – Western Soapberry Tree
Photos To Extension Agent For Identification
I was excited when I received this response from my local extension agent:
“Several years ago we did some studies with one of the specialists on soapberry trees. So I have sent this to the Master Gardeners that were involved at that time. We all agree this is the soapberry tree.”
WOO HOO! It’s said that soapberries contain about 37% saponin & were used by native Americans and early settlers for cleaners and soaps. So I’ve picked some of the berries and dried them. I used them in the small muslin bag that came with the soapnuts that I purchased awhile back.
I’ve read that it can cause skin irritations to those ‘susceptible to them’ so I tested it slowly at first. But I have used it for my own Home-Grown Laundry Detergent. How very cool that a tree on our property could be providing our laundry detergent!
I’m also in the process of testing it as a natural shampoo too. I’ll soak soapberries in water for 6 weeks, swirling the mixture from time to time. I may infuse my soapy mixture with rosemary for an extra healthy-hair boost. Then I’ll strain the mixture, dilute it and use it for a natural shampoo. A friend of mine does this and says it does a fantastic job cleaning her hair, and no conditioner is needed. I’ll be sure to share how that goes!
Want To Read More About Soapberries?
Want To See Our Natural Cleaning Posts?
- Why Complicate Cleaning?
- Grandma-Approved Cleaning Techniques
- Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
- Laundry-Scent Booster
- Cleaning Blood On Clothing
- Many Magical Uses For Baking Soda
- Make A Natural Air Freshener For Pennies
- How To Clean A Narrow-Neck Jar
- MYO Citrus-Scented Cleaner
- All-Natural Lavender-Scented Hand Scrub
- MYO All-Natural Carpet Cleaner
- Saving Your Fingernails While Cleaning
- Repurposing Mesh Bags For Scrubbing
- How To Use ALL Of Your Spray Cleaner
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