Wingleaf Soapberry

Wingleaf Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria) trees can be found growing in rocky, riparian canyons in the Tucson foothills. These small trees are often not very noticeable amidst the other riparian foliage unless their creamy white flowers or distinctive golden orange berries are present.

Wingleaf Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria) trees

The berries of Wingleaf Soapberry contain saponin, a foaming substance that can be used as a natural, soapy detergent to wash clothing. Saponin is poisonous, so the berries should not be eaten, and even if they weren't poisonous, their soapiness is a very good reason not to eat them.

Wingleaf Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria) berries

The large, round berries are an attractive golden orange color with golden highlights in the sunlight. Each berry's single, large, dark seed can faintly be seen through its translucent skin.