Soapwort-Better than Ivory


Phillipsport, United States

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Known as Bouncing Bet or Soapwort, this wildflower is in the Carnation family.

This is a popular ornamental species that escapes regularly from cultivation, distinguished by its opposite, simple, toothless leaves, its sepals united into a cylindrical tube, its 2 styles, and its notched petals.
It is an introduced perennial herb; upright, with smooth leafy stems, branched or not; rhizomatous, forms large colonies, growing from 1-3 ft in height.
The leaves are opposite, lanceolate to ovate, pointed, 3-5 veined, 1-4 in long or more, 0.5-2 in wide.
Flowers are white to pink to rose, 5-parted or sometimes double, to 1 in wide, fragrant; petals notched at tip, flaring backward; sepals form tube 1 in long or more; held in domed terminal cluster of many flowerheads.
The fruit is a capsule, cylindrical, smooth, 4-toothed, around 0.75 in long.
This plant is reportedly poisonous to animals if ingested. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals.
Soapwort Flowers from May to September, in waste places, streamsides, fields, meadows, roadsides, disturbed areas; to 8500 ft; widely cultivated as an ornamental.
Its range is Native to northern Europe and Asia, introduced, escaped from cultivation, now naturalized throughout the lower 48 states and southern Canada.
Also known as soapwort, sweet Betty. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas. Listed as noxious in Colorado.

As the name implies, it can be used as a very gentle soap, usually in dilute solution. It has historically been used to clean delicate or unique textiles. A lathery liquid that has the ability to dissolve fats or grease can be procured by boiling the leaves or roots in water. Take a large handful of leaves, bruise and chop them and boil for 30 minutes in 1 pint of water; strain off the liquid and use this as you would washing-up liquid.
This plant gives the most wonderful lather as a soap and is very gentle to the most sensitive skin.

Photographed along the stream shoulders in Spring Glen, New York, USA

Artwork Comments

  • kalaryder
  • PineSinger
  • kalaryder
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  • Jeanette Muhr
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