soapberry

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n soapberry a tree of the genus Sapindus whose fruit is rich in saponin
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n soapberry The fruit of one of several species of Sapindus; also, any of the trees producing it, and, by extension, any member of the genus. The fruit of the proper soapberries so abounds in saponin as to serve the purpose of soap. That of S. Saponaria, a small tree of South America, the West Indies, and Florida, is much used in the West Indies for cleansing linen, etc., and is said to be extremely efficacious, though with frequent use deleterious to the fabric. Its roots also contain saponin. Its hard black seeds are made up into rosaries and necklaces, and sometimes have been used as buttons. In the East Indies the fruit of S. trifoliatus appears to have been used as a detergent from remote times. The pulp is regarded also as astringent, anthelmintic, and tonic, and the seeds yield a medicinal oil. The wood is made into combs and other small articles. This species is sometimes called Indian filbert, translating the Mohammedan name. S. (Dittelasma) Rarak, of Cochin-China, etc., has also a detergent property. The wood of S. acuminatus (S. marginatus), of the southern United States, etc., is hard and strong, easily split into strips, and in the southwest much used for making cotton-baskets and the frames of pack-saddles. Its berries are reddish-brown, of the size of a cherry, with a soapy pulp. Also called wild china-tree (which see, under china-tree). The fruit of some species yields an edible pulpt though the seed is poisonous. Another name, especially of S. trifoliatus, is soapnut.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Soapberry the fruit of several species of trees belonging to the genus Sapindus, containing a pulp useful as a substitute for soap in washing
    • ***

Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. sápe; Dut. zeep, Ger. seife.

Usage

In literature:

Maple or Soapberry Family.
"The Wild Flowers of California: Their Names, Haunts, and Habits" by Mary Elizabeth Parsons
Cardiospermum Halicacabum L. Soapberry family.
"Texas Honey Plants" by C. E. Sanborn
***

In news:

Doris McLean of Whitehorse, Yukon, took first place in the institute's second soapberry contest.
***