Wednesday, 8 August 2007

How To: Grow Soap Nut Trees

A few months ago I wrote a review about soap nuts. These are nut husks (Sapindus spp.) coated in saponin, a natural soap. The image to the right is a grove of young adult Sapindus marginatus though the related Sapindus mukorossi is most commonly used as a detergent substitute. You can use these to wash your laundry without other detergents. The best part is that they actually work really well. I use them myself, and anyone who knows me will till you I am renowned for my subtle yet pleasing odour.

One day I found a soap nut seed amidst the husks. These are supposed to be removed from the husks, but this one made it through. My immediate thought was I must grow my own soap nut tree, and so I began to search for information about how to grow them. I could not find much information available, and what is available is geared towards commercial farmers in Asia. After 3 months, I successfully germinated some soap nuts, and now have living soap nut trees in my garden. I'm no expert at this, but I do have experience in horticulture, so I thought I would share what I've learned with you, gentle reader. These directions are based on reading guidelines given to commercial soap nut tree growers, my experience in growing soap nut trees of my own, and my horticultural experience growing other plants.

  1. First you must find a seed. These can be found with the husks occasionally, but you may have to look through quite a few husks to find one. I'm sure this varies from source to source, but by my estimate about 1 seed makes it through for every 50 to 100 husks. Because you use about 5 husks per load of laundry, this means you are likely to find one every 10 to 20 washes. The seed will be charcoal black, about the size of a small grape, and stone hard. If you find the seed after it has gone through the wash, it will still be perfectly good.
  2. Secondly, you must scarify the seed. Because the seed coat is so hard, the plant embryo inside cannot breakthrough the seed coat on its own. You must help it by damaging the seed coat. (The evolutionary purpose of this is to stagger the germination span over a period of months or even years, as well as dispersing them geographically so that an entire generation of seedlings cannot be wiped out in one streak of bad luck.) Nature scarifies seeds through harsh weather and by animals eating and partially digesting them. We'll have to be a little creative. One option is to use a nail file and wear down a notch in the seed coat. I found the seed coat to be so tough that sand paper and fine-grained files did not leave a mark. Another option is to hammer the seed. Be careful not to crush the seed; we just want to weaken the seed coat. I gave about a dozen hard whacks to my seed against concrete, and felt like I was weakening it, but did not see any visible change. Thirdly, you may soak it in hot water. Don't use water that is actually boiling, but it can still be very hot. I boiled a kettle, let the hot water sit for five minutes, and then filled up a vacuum-insulated thermos with the seeds and water, and let it soak for 24 hours. The thermos will keep the water quite warm throughout that period. I used all three methods (filing, hammering, soaking) and it worked ok, but I'm sure there are other good methods too. Soaking is particularly important though, as the water is what activates the germination.
  3. Thirdly, you need to plant the seed. I would do this in spring or early summer in a pot either outside or in a greenhouse. Choose a pot that is deep, as soap nut trees send down vertical tap roots. If you don't have a deep pot, a 2 litre plastic bottle works well - cut off the top and drill several holes in the bottom. Bury the seed in potting soil (not dirt - use good quality potting/germinating soil) to about three times the seed's depth. Put it in a place where it will not be in direct sun, and where it can catch some rainfall. Water the pot if the soil starts to dry, but don't water if it is still moist - that can promote fungal growth. Also, avoid fertilizing the soil before germination occurs - high levels of nitrogen in the soil can actually inhibit germination in general.
  4. Fourth, wait. Your seed may take a long time to germinate. It could be 1 month to 3 months, perhaps even more. Not all of the seeds will germinate, but if you follow these directions, you should get 80%+ to grow. Once it does begin to grow, it will shoot up fast. About 1 foot in 1 month should be about right, then it will slow down a little. Give it plenty of full sunlight, and water when soil begins to dry. The image to the right is a Sapindus mukorossi (as far as I can tell) about 3 weeks after germination. It is ready to be repotted in a larger pot.
  5. Fifth, taking care of the tree... My trees are still very young, so I cannot provide a lot of personal experience. I will be growing mine in progressively larger pots, keeping them on a sunny patio when temperatures are above freezing and moving them indoors when it gets cold. (They may be able to cope with British/American winters, but I need to find out about that - they are mainly grown in northern India and southern China, so they may or may not be able to sustain freezing temperatures, depending on their specific biome.) They appear to be generally quite hardy and should not need a high level of care. From what I can piece together, you should start getting decent crops of soap nuts in about 10 years, but I would not be surprised if you get some significantly earlier or later than this. The tree will start off with a smooth silvery bark, which will eventually become darker and rougher. Some of the largest Sapindus trees are 75 m in height, but that would be quite unlikely out of their natural environment.


Anonymous said...

thank you for this info, i have found it very very helpful. i have just found out about soap nuts and was thinking it would be great to grow a tree but was not sure if it could be done. I will be giving it a try now

Myshell said...

Hey! This is great!! I am huge fan of soap nuts and have found many other uses for them. I have been wondering about growing my own, thank you for doing the leg work. I think if I get a start on this now, by the time we move out to the country (1-2 yrs), I will have my own little forest of "ready to transplant into real home" trees. If you wish to check out what I am doing with these fantastic little gold nuggets, click my profile...Color Your World Pink. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Finally..thanx soo much for the info!
What are other uses for soap nuts?

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your info. i am thinking of having a small plantation of them in New Zealand, not sure if they will withstand the weather and I have yet to try and get the seeds into the country but hey...

Can I clarify that putting the sends into hot water alone is all that is needed or do you also need to crack them?

Thanks for the info :)

Exeterra said...

There are many varieties of soap nuts which grow over the world, I'm sure some would be suitable to NZ, though it may take some good old experimentation to find out what works.

I first "cracked" the shell (weakened is more accurate, as you want to avoid big cracks or damage to the seed itself), and then soaked it in hot water. In fact the purpose of the water soaking is to get water inside, and to help open the shell as the inside expands, so it is better to scarify/crack before soaking.

Other uses for soap nuts... General cleaning is the only real purpose I know of! If the saponin (that's what makes them soapy) were extracted, it could be used for a variety of purposes, such as an organic pest deterrent. Quinoa plants use saponin as a natural defense against hungry birds. The sapindus trees are fairly pretty, too, so they could be used ornamentally.

mrs.p said...

I am interested in buying a couple of soap tree seedlings or some seeds. I'm in California. If anyone has these, or knows of someone who does, please post or let me know. Thank so much!

Anonymous said...

Soap Nuts (Soapnuts) – Nature’s Natural Detergent

I’m not an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do consider the impact of what I am doing has on the environment. That is why when my wife started using Soap Nuts as our household cleaner, it sparked my curiosity to learn more.

What are Soap Nuts?

Soap Nuts are actually not nuts at all. They are berries (also known as Soap Berries) that grow on trees in India & Nepal. There are two main varieties of Soap Nuts: sapindus trifoliatus (The Small Soap Nut) and sapindus mukorossi (The Large Soap Nut). The Large Soap Nut is the most commonly used in cleaning (probably due to its size & ease of harvesting), but both varieties are quite effective.

How do Soap Nuts Work as a Detergent?

Soap Nuts contain large quantities of saponin in their shells, which acts as a natural, gentle detergent when it comes into contact with water. Without added chemicals, fragrances or dyes, Soap Nuts are safe and gentle for handwashing delicates, yet tough enough for regular laundry. They will leave your laundry soft, clean and fragrance free, without the use of fabric softeners.

Will Soap Nuts Clean Difficult Items?

Yes and No. Soap Nuts are one of the best detergents out there to get rid of bad odors. Musty towels and wash cloths, even cloth diapers, come out smelling fresh and new. When it comes to stubborn stains, though, such as blood & red wine, you will want to use a stain remover to help the cleaning process.

What About My Allergies to Soap?

Most allergic reactions to soap are due to added chemicals and fragrance. Soap Nuts are naturally grown and chemical free. When we began using soap nuts for our laundry detergent, the eczema which I had across my chest and belly cleared up and has been gone now for 6 months. Soap Nuts are 100% non-allergenic.

How do I use Soap Nuts in my Laundry?

For Laundry Detergent, you can use Soap Nuts one of two ways:
1. Toss 2 or 3 Soap Nuts in a small muslim bag (provided with most Soap Nuts orders) and throw it in with your laundry. (Make sure that you take the soap nuts out before putting your clothes in the dryer). The nuts will do 3 or 4 loads.
2. Boil 100 g of Soap Nuts in 12 cups (3L) of water for 30 minutes. The liquid you have is now a concentrated, chemical free detergent. The leftover shells can be placed in your compost. Use 3 Tbsp or 45 ml of this detergent with each load of laundry. This allows you to do approximately 60 loads of laundry. Not bad for under $10!

Can Soap Nuts be used for More Than Just Laundry Detergent?

Yes. Soap Nuts can be used, in the liquid form, for cleaning just about anything. From dish washer soap, to window & glass cleaner, to repairing oily or dry hair, Soap Nuts are a multi-purpose cleaner. For more information on particular applications visit

The End Product Still Goes Down the Drain. Does That Hurt the Environment?

No. Soap nuts are antimicrobial. This means that they actually help in breaking down the grey water in the septic system. Also, you do not have to do a rinse cycle when you do your laundry with soap nuts. This can save gallons of water every wash cycle. Don’t worry, though; if you forget to stop your machine before the rinse cycle the Soap Nuts are just as effective. The amount of saponin left in the rinse cycle will just leave your clothes feeling soft.

Soap Nuts are a Win-Win Situation

With great cleaning power, no harmful chemicals, & prices that rival any other detergents, Soap Nuts are one of the best cleaning agents you can buy.

For more information on Soap Nuts & pricing, visit

Kia said...

Hi!I think this post is very interensting and vey helpful! now I have all informations that I need!thank you soo much and congratulations for your blog:) it's very interesting and it's very nice!:)see you soon!come in my blog ...I wait you soon!BYE!

Unknown said...

Great info!

One question. If I use the soap nuts for say three or four washes - then I'm left with old soap nuts. I could compost these. However, could I burn them in a wood chip burner or similar? Could I actually manage to power my hot water supply or keep warm with leftover soap nuts?!

I have read about soap nuts, but haven't seen or held any yet...

Many thanks


Willow said...

I have soapnuts growing left right and centre. they remind me of growning broad beans. You are so right about the main shoot being really long, I started the seeds of in seed trays but they are too shallow. I found the trick to getting them to grow was not so much my cutting the seeds but making sure they were wet enough and warm enough.
I don't know if you would be able to grow the trees in bags for long as I am guessing they have a pretty big root system.

Nicola said...

Thank you so much for your information. You can actually BUY soapnuts (the seed kind) from Since i am new to gardening, I decided to buy 100!!

They arrived today and I am going to try a variety of things (thanks for all the suggestions) and see what works.

I am in Oklahoma and we have had some bad ice storms recently, so I'm hoping when the trees are more mature, they will be able to cope with that.

looking forward to learning more.

Anonymous said...

if anonymous or any other kiwis manage to get seeds in to the country please can you let me know how thanks

Anonymous said...

@ markhb and anonymous - in New Zealand, you can buy the nuts and the seeds at - I'm just about to place my first order, soapnuts sound great!

fireplug said...

This is excellent info on soap nuts seeds. Good job!!! Thanks.

Having owned a tree farm in an earlier life, AND being an avid user of soap nuts as detergent and other cleansers, I've been experimenting, too. Scarring the shells is extremely difficult. They are not only hard - but SO darn smooth and slippery. Bad combination. I'm still working on an easy, reliable method for an improved germination success rate in large quantities (for growing commercially). I have a LOT of land that I believe to be very similar to their native environment. Can't sell land these days, so why not plant it out, huh? Could be a great investment.

In the US you can email and order mukorossi soap nuts seeds from NaturOli in Arizona. They're one of the largest importers, and they sort the soap nuts in the US in huge quantities to sell in different grades to different companies. They produce powders, liquids, extracts and who knows what else. Through sorting them, they get a lot of seeds. I do not believe they are actively selling the seeds, but you can email them for price and availability. Given their volumes, they should have whatever you want. I had no problem at all getting all I wanted plus assurance of the variety of the seeds (which is VERY important to me). I'm focusing on cultivation of the mukorossi variety only. Here's a link to one of their sites:

You can figure it out from there. They have a lot of info for soap nut newbies and us veterans - and you can't ask for nicer folks to correspond with. They have numerous web sites and sell wholesale and retail. I've found them to have the best quality soap nuts for the buck BY FAR. I like knowing they've been sorted and stored here in the US before I get them. I've bought soap nuts previously that were of horrible quality, and found that the seller actually knew very little about them. That's certainly not the case with NaturOli.

btw: These are TRULY "green" people, and I've seen only care and concern for both us and our planet. There's no BS and they really know their business. Very cool people to get to know.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I will have to try that. I will have to do it inside, though, as we have 6 months of harsh winter here.

fireplug said...

Yes, you'll probably need a greenhouse. Christopher may have some input. He certainly has valuable knowledge and lots of insight regarding soap nuts seeds, germination, planting, etc. You can also try asking the service people, too. They've helped me in many, many ways, but I don't know if growing soap nut trees falls in their area of expertise. Good luck!

Mary said...

Thank You for taking the time to share. It is really appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone discovered a source for Soapnut Saplings? I wish to try maintaining my own supply, but from info above I would have to wait many years for berries if growing from seed.

Anonymous said...

I bought my first soap nuts only a few weeks ago and found on seed already. I didn't know if it was ok to put it in the washing machine so I put it back into the paper bag. When it comes to my hand again I will try all these instructions and see what happens. Here in Finland we have quite a short summer so I have to grow the plant in our livingroom. Our winters are very dark, so I guess I must buy a special lamp to give it the sunlight it needs. Anyway, this will be an interesting experiment. Thank you so much for all this information.

Carol said...

Just learned about soapnuts from a "BackHome" magazine and your blog came up while surfing for info on the. I am going to try to get some and start a planting of my own.

Texas HatLady said...

Thanks so much for this great info. After looking at pollution effects of ingredients in grocery store detergent, I'm determined to find something eco-sound, and what could be better than growing my own! Think I'll pick up a sack of soap nuts at Austin, TX's EcoWise. It's certainly hot enough in central Texas, but I bet I'll have to water the soap nut trees. :)

lynne said...

Thank you for this info, hope you add to it as time passes, and your trees get biger. I found 10 seeds in my last bag, I could not break them so your info helped give some ideas. As i live in the deep south I think the trees will grow well here, but I will be looking back to get updates.

fireplug said...

Just a few things:

1 - DO NOT ever use the seeds when washing. That coal black color will leave spots on fabrics. Not good. Some soap nuts are being sold that are the Trifoliatus variety and all full of seeds. They were not de-seeded at all as they should be before dried. They were at a very cheap price $7USD/lb by Mountain Rose Herbs and claimed to be Mukorossi. Had to buy a bag. Major rip off!!!! If you want Trifoliatus seeds, that's a way to go though. They are tough getting out of the shells when dried.

2 - The Mukorossi tree takes around nine years to bare fruit. That's certainly the preferred variety. I don't how long for Trifoliatus. My bet is not nearly as long. They are much smaller. Some refer to them as big bushes. I need to research this more.

3 - To tell the difference the size is the easiest way, as with the trees the Mukorossi is a large tree. Trifoliatus is much smaller. Same goes for the berries. The Mukorossi are about the diameter of a US nickle or larger. If much smaller (like a pennie diameter) is it probably Trifoliatus. Trifoliatus don't tend to be as colorful or tacky.

4 - Trifoliatus does work. It simply has a lower saponin content. Many liquids and powders are made from them. They are cheaper.

5 - If you are at a higher altitude I'd grow Mukorossi. At lower altitudes I'd lean to Trifoliatus.

6 - No sapling sellers that I know of, yet.

Boutique de Bijoux said...

Could you expand on growing at high altitudes as I am around 5200 ft and am looking for higher altitude property.

italiansoapnut said...

Hello to all of you.
I'm from Italy so please excuse me if my english sometimes is not fine. Concerning the soapnut trees I'm looking since long time some informations (I knew sapindus in India on 1996) about growing my own the trees here in Italy. First of all let me say something about the differents types: fireplug said on 21 june 2009 that sapindus trifoliatus has less saponins than mukorossi but it's not true. The weight of Mukorossi berries is 2,8 grams, Trifoliatus is 1,4 (both with seeds); the weight of seeds is 50% of the whole nut. Mukorossi has around 11-11.5% of saponins and trifoliatus has 23-24%. This means that the quantity of saponins for each berry is a little higher for Trifoliatus sp. Mukorossi tree became around 20 meters high, Trifoliatus only 12. Mukorossi takes aprox 10 years before give the berries, Trifoliatus I don't know and I'm looking about it because now I've 150 small (30 cm) plants of it.
I started on January: I planted the seed directly (no scarifying, no crakying) in a greenhouse but it takes 2-3 months for germination. After that I've discovered on the web that the best way is to put the seed in water for 2-3 days, than plant them. Direct sunlight is terrible for the small plants. My problem now is to know which is the minimum temperature trees can bear when they will be big enough to be planted into the ground. I've contacted also the Indian Ministery for Wildlife and Forest Conservation to have some informations about the needs (water, umidity, temperature, etc.) for Trifoliatus sp. and how many years for the first harvest, but I did not receive any reply.
Bye bye.

hellaD said...

wow great post, I've been wondering about growing a soapnut tree and good to get all your great tips! I have linked to this article from my site, thanks.

fireplug said...

Hi folks,
Italiansoapnuts may be right on the saponin content between mukorossi and trifoliatus. (btw: Your English is fine.) I based my feedback upon personal experience (not lab reports and efficacy studies). I have not had as good of net results from any species I've tried other than mukorossi. An interesting part of this is that there are different saponins. There is not only ONE saponin without variation. Hence, given we are discussing different species, we are introducing more variables. I hate variables. I will comment that friends in India have concurred with my original conclusions, and hence is why mukorossi is of higher value. But again, this is personal experience and opinions - not lab studies. I haven't posted in a while here, and have wanted to mention something. I bought a bag of soap nuts from Mountain Rose Herbs that were claimed to be mukorossi - and organic. Frankly I always take the organic claims with a grain of salt. But what is really worth sharing is that what I received were certainly NOT mukorossi (they were HALF the typical size) PLUS every one had a seed in it. Has anyone ever tried to remove a seed from a very dried out trifoliatus (which I'm virtually certain they are) soap nut? NOT FUN! The seeds can leave spots on fabrics so they MUST be removed. I'm not growing a soap nut tree farm (my tree farming days are over), just thought I'd try these for only $7.00 USD/lb + s/h. But what a rip off - even at that price! I remain a NaturOli fan. Guess if you want trifoliatus seeds (that's not a guarantee on what they are - it's just based upon my previous observations) that's a source for them. I just want good results when doing my laundry and cleaning. I'll stick with mukorossi, and a supplier that has never let me down. They do have seeds in stock btw. I checked when I ordered recently. You have to call or write and ask though. Thanks for your good input Italiansoapnuts. If I'm ever wrong, I'll be the first to admit it. I believe though that this is still not quite that simple. You've given me some ideas I'll have to now test for myself. Oh, somebody asked my about altitudes for mukorossi. I have to drill into that again. There is a specific range that they are known to do best in. I have to find where I obtained that data again. I don't remember what that range was. Sorry. Till the next time!

yuvaliat said...

Hello Christopher Chandler,
Thank you very much for your post.
I live in Israel and I also want to grow my own Soapnuts tree.
But I guess I'm not so lucky, I'm using the Soapnuts for few month now, and so far I didn't find any seeds :(
Sending them to Israel is a problem, since the custom might stop them (it already happened to me once).

Anyway, I wanted to ask you how did it go with the seedlings?

Thank you,

fireplug said...

yea...Customs can be tricky with vegetation. Most people don't know what soap nuts are. That doesn't help. Sorry to hear that.

Couple other things:
1 - A friend just bought some saplings here:
She said their leaf structure looked like mukorossi, but ????

2 - Just got bought more soap nuts from NaturOli. I was told they have lots of mukorossi seeds available. You need to write to them for prices. They don't show the seeds in their soap nut store department.

btw: They have a new liquid soap nut concentrated detergent. It's 18X strength! One TEASPOON per load. whoa... Here's one review:

All other comments I've read have been excellent. It's sold on Amazon, too. Another reviewer called it "Soap nuts in a bottle." Very cool.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you very much for this post. You provided the info I had been looking for. I live in Southeast Asia so it should be relatively easier for me to grow a sapindus plant.

I wonder if you could scarify a seed by making notches in it with a knife, though? Or just soaking it in lukewarm water until it is ready to germinate?

Thanks again for this helpful post.


Anonymous said...

Found sapindus mukorossi soap nut tree seeds on Ebay:

Anonymous said...

you can purchase the seeds at for $1.85

Lyssa said...

I wish I owned my home, I would be growing several of these little trees :) Thank you for the info, I now have a little seed planted and hope to see him sprout sometime in the future.

fireplug said...

Good for you, Alyssa! Hopefully we'll have soap nut tress growing all over someday. We can just pick our own soap nuts at home. :-)

Anya said...

Thank you! I have a seed and I live in the Caribbean. We have trees here planted by Indian immigrants, but all the health food stores import the berries from India via Germany or Switzerland then via France. Your info is so helpful! I'll let you know how fast mine grows.

Unknown said...

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

wholesale fern said...

TN Nursery is a state certified tree nursery specializing in native plants and trees, shrubs, fern, and perennials as well as pond plants and wetland mitigation.

alan hayward said...

Hi, was given a bag of soap nuts for Christmas last year and when i found a seed I stuck it in a pot to see if it would grow, that was several months ago now. I hadn't done anything to the seed at all before potting it.
Since nothing appeared to be happening my girl friend used the soil to plant some herbs in. But now its spring here in Auckland NZ and I've got what I'm hoping is a soap nut coming up tree. Does any body have any pictures of what a very young soup nut tree looks like? What Ive got so far looks a bit like the pictures above but without the upper leaves, IE just a short shoot with very thick leaf like things.

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing this knowledge.

Samruddhi Parmar said...


This is a wonderful experience you have shared. kindly visit

to buy soap nuts or soap nut powder

quick growing trees said...

Anyone who wants to grow healthy plants should know that location is one of the most important factors that governs successful growth of plants. Most people buy a plant, go out into the garden, dig a hole somewhere, and place the plant in the soil: and when the plant fails to grow, they blame the nursery or soil. Site selection is vital if you want your plants to grow and thrive. Choosing the best site can save a lot of frustration and headaches.
tree nursery

Acer Laptop Computers said...

You have to have a pretty warm climate to grow soap nuts trees. I live in Canada, so I can't here.

natacha lee said...

Great post, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I live in NZ and have been buying soap nuts for a while, and found about 8 seeds in all. I planted a few, and two sprouted, they are doing great. If you google sapindus mukorossi you'll find images of it.
If they are grown in North Asia, surely they would get frost and cold winters, am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've enjoyed reading all of these comments and have a couple of 'dumb' questions.
1. Is it the entire undisturbed round 'bean' I want or don't want? One package of Maggie's Soap Nuts had a mix of cracked shells and whole 'beans'. I used all without a thought. Some of the comments talk about spots from the whole bean or berry. Should I not use these? Should I just use the shells?
2. I think I'm confused about the 'seed'. Is that what I'm talking about in #1 or is the seed inside these bean/berry things? This second box of Maggies has all whole bean/berries that are a bit sticky. A load is in this what will stain clothes? I wish the site could have pictures for those of us who can't quite visualize each of the parts.
I have found Maggie's to be reliable as a cleaner but would like info about what exactly the seed is.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just think of a soap nut (or soap berry) like a cherry. There is a big, black, rock hard seed in every one unless they've been removed. That seed is to be avoided. They should be removed when fresh off the tree, but sometimes they are not. A lot of them that are packaged in India, Nepal and Indonesia (like Maggies, Mountain Rose, Bodhi and others). They often have a lot of seeds still in them. The seed is added weight (usually more than the skin and pulp!) with no value for cleaning. Only use the dried skin and pulp. Be careful about what "whole" means. Sometimes it means NOT de-seeded. I know, I know... You just got to be smarter. I HIGHLY suggest spending some time on to learn a whole lot more. Good luck!

Unknown said...

While you wait ten years to get your crop here is a link to a site that has the lowest prices on the best soap nuts available. They can sell you seeds also.

best deal said...

I have a discount code 10% off for Green Virgin Products. They have the best prices and their products are amazing. The code is 10off.

fireplug said...

Keep growing those trees! I truly believe that we'll have soap berry tree forests growing all over the USA and in many more parts of the world one day.

Haven't gotten an email in a long time from here. Hope all is well for everyone.

I remain an avid fan of NaturOli's soap berry products. The latest: NaturOli won third place in this years Greed Dot Awards for Extreme 18X liquid soap nut concentrate. That's two winning years in a row. A week or two ago a micro-dose pump for 18X was introduced. Works great. Easy, no waste and NO MEASURING. Very smart - as usual.

Be well!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info! I just printed it. I had JUST put some soap nuts seeds into a pot...I would have been waiting until...forever since I didn't scarify them. Those little buggars are HARD. Not sure if they will grow indoors...they would never survive the weather here. FYI, I purchased my soap nuts (for soap/shampoo/laundry) from and the price was reasonable AND, to my joy, they don't remove the seed from the soap nut, so you don't have to depend on chance to find a seed...every one of my soap nuts had a seed inside. I just used a nutcracker to get it out, then I had a bunch of seed and a bunch of usable soap nut fragments.

Anonymous said...

Wow... You must be planting an orchard of trifoliatus trees. In a tiny 4oz bag I bought from MRH a long time ago there were over 60 seeds in it. More seeds than shells. There's a good pic on which represents exactly what I received. I was disappointed and felt ripped-off. Didn't know better till finding pro. jmo. Good luck. Love to see people planting soap berry trees!

green guy said...

Just so everyone knows, soap nuts pro is just an advertising site for naturoli. Never buy whole soap nuts with the seeds inside as you are getting ripped off price wise as the seeds weigh more than the shells. I found the best price and the highest quality anywhere at

Anonymous said...

I find that comment a bit sad. Mr. Sicurella wrote most of to the best of my knowledge and introduces himself as the founder of NaturOli on the welcome page and in many of the articles I've read so far. He doesn't hide anything and seems to care about education. He solicits sellers to contribute and prohibits self promotion. I've read articles of his on the Associated Press, Ezine, Ehow, Articlebase, and a bunch that I can't remember. He's open, honest and I never thought of these articles as advertisements, just informative. Why are you insulting the guy? I've been told that Green Virgin was an okay company. This comment makes me wonder, are you somehow connected to them? I'm a blogger and writing a post about soap nuts/berries. I plan to share some of this thread with my readers.

Anonymous said...

I rather like getting a soap nut seed in every nut and don't feel ripped off. I share the seeds with others or just continue to use them whole. I don't think $6 a pound from Mountain Rose Herbs is outlandish even WITH the extra weight of a seed in each one. Oh, and FYI blogger, I created a link to your blog about growing soap nuts in my blog...I hope that's OK...I give you all the credit. You can view it at

Anonymous said...

Hi! The soap nuts from Mountain Rose are trifoliatus. It's Mukorossi that grows better in the higher mountainous areas. You should have better luck growing the trifoliatus species in general from what I've read and been told. gets into this in a couple of its articles. I have a friend growing trifoliatus successfully in Florida. Like states somewhere, they grow like a weed once you get them going. She agrees. Mukorossi seems like it's alot more difficult and finicky. I haven't tried. I just want the best soap nuts to do my laundry and make cleaners. Good luck to you!!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

the other thing I wonder about in the seed vs no seed debate (some saying it would be good to have seeds, others saying it is a rip off to have the seeds left in since you are paying by the pound), is how does one calculate cost difference for the labor of removing all of those seeds? For example, Mountain Rose charges about $6 per pound WITH seed in tact, and Maggies Pure Land Soap Nuts charges $18.99 for 10 oz of nuts with seed removed. Plus theirs smell like they've been softened/soaked in white vinegar to get the nut out and the bag is so sticky when it comes that it sometimes tears the plastic just to get the nuts out (where MRH's are nice and dry).

How does one determine the best buy or in what condition they should expect their soap nuts to be in for best use results? Anybody know that? I'm pretty new to them...OK...really new.

Next question...I was going to subscribe to this blog and can't figure out HOW. I don't use a "reader" per se. I'm a me out here.

Anonymous said...

That site is a lot of good info to consider. Thanks!

green guy said...

Soap nuts pro has lot of good info but keep in mind that the site is 100% biased towards NaturOli because the whole site is written buy the owner and founder of naturoli.It is not an independent unbiased site. For the highest quality soap nuts at the lowest price you have to go to Green Virgin Products. You can pay more, but you can't get better soap nuts at any price.

fireplug said...

Hi Willow!

I haven't chimed in here in a LONG time. Seen the little flurry of email notices, so figured I should.

I know it can be confusing. Everybody goes through the same learning curve. It's good you are reading .pro. Good intel and facts.

Here's the deal:
1. The mukorossi and trifoliatus species are very different. Mukorossi has a much thicker and juicer pulp and skin (which is what contains the saponin). Trifoliatus has a much thinner and drier pulp and skin. Less saponin even without the seeds. You need more of the "shells" by weight than you would with mukorossi. Does that make sense? So, bottom line: you don't get as much of the all-important saponin with the trifoliatus species.

As for Maggies, they are mukorossi. They were the first US seller (in recent years). In 1921, a gentleman named Edward Moulie (nicknamed Johnnie Soap Nut Seed) was the true original US soap nut seller. Just for a little trivia thrown in. Anyway, Maggie's soap nuts are often VERY OLD. Being so moist when packaged and then sealed in plastic they stay wet, age quickly, turn black and get gross like you mentioned. A lot of stores have pulled the brand because of quality control being so poor.

Trifoliatus (being so much drier to start with) won't do that. They'll get dark but not all messy and gummy like maggies do. Maggies do tend to be priced high. Always have been. But they were the only game in town for quite awhile. Mountain Rose only recently started offering soap nuts.

It's my understanding that MRH stopped selling the trifoliatus with seeds due to a lot of complaints and all the skuttlebutt online about it. I don't know if that is true or not. I just heard it through the grapevine.

There is a market for all species. Same as everthing else in this world. Of course everybody claims to have the best. I find that SO humorous. How do you determine what's the best apple, or grape, or cherry? Isn't it a matter of use, taste and personal preference? As far as seeds, it's almost irrelevant. It's just a matter if you want seeds or not - and know what the value is to YOU for what you are buying. What I hate is when people misrepresent their goods to "newbies". That was cool of you to admit that. It helped me to answer you better. A lot of people don't have all their facts straight. I've read a lot of imaginative and creative sales hype that is totally bogus.

So Willow, you'll just have to decide what you really want. You have lots of options. You can hardly go wrong if you are reading pro (other than spending an entire day weeding through all the data). It's deep!

Good luck to you. I'll be glad to chime in again if I missed something. I enjoy helping our newbies. I'm totally sold on soap nuts as the future for green cleaning.

Anonymous said...

I'm digging all this info! Thanks! Another question...why do Maggie's smell like white vinegar...strong! Is that a fermentation of old soap nuts, or do they soak them in vinegar or something?? MRH have zero smell, and Maggies just plain smell like vinegar.

FYI, I have an email in to MRH to check out the info and answer me about it...the seed vs no seed, the claim that selling with seed is a rip off, the info about seeds staining clothing, the implication that MRH sells or mislabels their types of soap nuts. We'll see what they say. The label on the soap nuts I currently have from MRH say they are unless they fraudulently labeled them (which I sincerely doubt), perhaps they've made some change. However they do still all have seeds, and I'm still not clear whether I need to remove those prior to using in my laundry. And these seeds rattle, meaning they are not bonded to the fruit (see, and are very easy to remove.

And hey, if anybody is in need of seeds, looks like I have a lot of them. You would just need to pay postage.

I just completed a blog post review about soap nuts on my blog and linked to this blog for more info. (and don't use the dot after the www or it won't work).

Thanks for the lively discussion!

fireplug said...

Hi Willow!

I think I can help again.

1. Maggies does not soak their soap nuts in vinegar. Saponin smell like vinegar. As I alluded to and mentioned on, it is a matter of being sealed while too moist and the inability to breath in the cellophane. They simply get gross. You are smelling the pungent odor of aged saponin. It still works. Just awfully nasty. lol! They are often a year or two old. From experience, that's obvious to me. They don't rotate product seasonally as I believe should be done and better sellers do.

2. Read MRH carefully, they state on the site: "Soap Nuts, whole, sapindus mukorossi. Profile: Also known as Sapindus mukorossi, Sapindus trifoliatus, Sapindus saponaria, soapberry, and soap pods." The bag states "Sapindus Mukorossi" I don't think they get it about the different species. I'm sure they will. I buy other products from MRH and they know a lot, but soap nuts are new to them. Maybe their supplier hasn't fully educated their buyer. Who knows? CERTAINLY MRH isn't knowingly being fraudulent. No way. If you want to blame somebody, I'd look to their supplier or exporter for being ignorant. (Or worse, but I'm not going there. All I'll say is there are unscrupulous exporters finding lucrative opportunities in this market.) The ones I have are definitely trifoliatus. I can spot them immediately. Don't get hung up on the rattling issue. Pro mentions it only in passing, but there's a lot of variables. Mr. Sicurella tends to be overly detailed sometimes. It is true in many cases. I have to literally peel the shells off mine from MRH. Nothing is constant when it comes to Mother Nature.

3. The reason that MRH's soap nuts don't smell is that they are simply drier. The drier, the less scent. Trifoliatus saponin differs in characteristics, too. Boil some batches up. You'll see. Even when very fresh, they don't smell as strong. You need more trifoliatus berries to get the same potency as you would from mukorossi (and that's with the seeds removed).

4. Your post was excellent and forthright. You'll get people thinking. That's what this market needs. I have a little problem (it was just how you worded the last paragraph). If you haven't noticed, "Green Guy", "Best Deal" and others I've seen on other sites are all either Ken Marion, the owner, or someone at Green Virgin. Click the names and you go right to the site. They are constantly attacking and NaturOli. I don't know why for I've never seen either bash any brand - EVER. Mr. Sicurella, the author of SNP, founder of NaturOli, and owner of SoapNutsSupplier has done more for the soap nut industry than all the others combined. I believe that if it wasn't for all his writings and operations, soap nuts wouldn't be on nearly as many radar screens today. The man won back-to-back Green Dot Awards for his work with soap nuts. That's unprecedented! To win such prestigious awards for work with an obscure fruit and something as mundane as detergent is quite an achievement. SNP (as he explains himself) is an entity to "shed light where needed" and "raise consumer awareness". Period. It's a remarkable effort. Mr. Marion should show some respect for the man. All Mr. Sicurella does on SNP is educate consumers and write the truth as he sees it. I view him as a real Ralph Nader of Soap Nuts. I guess a lot of people don't like Nader - particularly the ones whose toes he steps on. How can you speak the whole truth without stepping on a few toes, huh? I hope that you will see this for how it REALLY is. He's on OUR side. He's not the one bashing anybody - unethical merchants and crooks aside. Frankly, I think he's OVERLY gracious when it even comes to those types.

Sorry about the rant. Understand that I've seen this all before. GVP irritates me with all the low blows, half truths, and misleading statements. But it has been lively! :-)

Green Guy said...

First of all I am not Ken Marion and I don't work for Green Virgin Products. All I did was make a statement of fact that soapnutspro is biased towards naturoli because it is written by them. They only recommend naturoli and no other brand. There was no insult by me just a statement of facts. If you don't like me saying that, make it more obvious that it is a naturoli owned site. Put your logo at the top and quit trying to mislead people into thinking that it is an independent site. I linked to Green Virgin Products because I am a customer of theirs and they have the best quality and the lowest price. They answer their phone at all hours and their customer service is beyond reproach. I talked to Chris from naturoli about buying bulk and all he did was put down all his competitors and was not easy to deal with so I choose Green Virgin Products and I am glad I did.

fireplug said...

Ken, or whomever,

I am SO done with this ridiculous banter. Mr. Sicurella makes it PERFECTLY clear EXACTLY who he is on - and EXACTLY why it is separated from NaturOli. It "sells" NOTHING - again NOTHING. You can't even buy anything there if you wanted to. Nothing is hidden IN ANY WAY. Maybe you should read it - fully. Putting a NaturOli logo on it would be exactly what the site is NOT philosophically intended to accomplish. It's an educational resource that has helped many. Read all the comments sometime.

Please no more of this... I've been trying to help Willow through issues that MANY people have and are confused about - not start some silly debate with you. Again, no more...PLEASE!!! We've both expressed our opinions quite clearly. So, let's just let it go at that. I believe readers on this site are quite intelligent and can draw their own conclusions.

Willow, I will continue to get my email notifications from exeterra. I'll be here if I can help you with any specifics that I have knowledge about. You have a very inquisitive mindset. Our world needs more people drilling deeper into ALL the issues we face these days (going far beyond soap nuts). Very few make that easy for us. Keep drilling!!! I don't want to sound corny, but I believe firmly in universal truths. I don't care who you are or how big you are, THOSE truth will always prevail. It's only a matter of time.

Willow said...

Oh Man.....who knew that soap nuts could turn into turf war?? Who knew?

I'm always happy to hear what someone likes about their current vendor/product source. And yeah, no bashing of others in necessary...just speaking from one's own perspective works for me.

I've not heard back yet from MRH re the issue of type of nuts they sell, seeds in, etc. Will let you know if I hear anything interesting.

I keep the soap nuts I got from MRH in the freezer with my other herbs to help extend their freshness. And found by happy accident, that it then makes it really really easy to use a nutcracker and pop those seeds right out of there for the few at a time that I use.

So...based on info, would y'all agree that it IS necessary to remove the seed from the nuts before use in a muslin bag in the laundry load? Has anybody ever experienced staining in the laundry from seeds that are still encased in the nut? It's easy enough to do but not sure if I really need to.

fireplug said...

Hi Willow!

Yea, crazy, huh... Geesh... lol!

Here's my sad personal experience: In my early days using soap nuts, I used some that had seeds. Some seeds came out of the shell on their own after a few loads, so they were loose in the wash bag. The TERRIBLE thing that happened to me is that I washed some of my finest and favorite Ralph Lauren pieces, and left them sit wet in the machine for a couple hours. In horror, I noticed that the wash bag had VERY dark spots on it. Oh, no...!!! And yep, sure enough, there were spots on some of the laundry that was in sitting in contact with the bag. I was so upset! And the spots have never come out! I don't even want to talk about it anymore. It STILL upsets me.

I've never allowed seeds in my soap nuts since. I learned the REALLY hard way. Why, why, why couldn't that load have been rags or old clothes????

I've never had a problem since, but I'm very careful not to have any seeds in the wash bag anymore - and will certainly never buy them with seeds anymore. You can almost always find a few seeds in whatever you buy. Guess a few can just slip through. I just check them first.

So, you have to decide yourself. Just DON'T EVER use them when washing a $500 dollar load of clothes!!! :-(

Heli said...

Thanks for the tips, I'm really interested in soap trees and I hope I find some of them while I'm staying in Nepal and hopefully I'm able to plant my own tree in someday :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I am in the UK and have been buying mukorossi soap nuts ( they are about 35mm in diameter. They are whole and have the seed in them. I actually choose the whole ones with the seed as they stay dry and fresh if the seed remains in them. When doing my laundry I leave them whole and do not remove the seed and have NEVER had a problem with stained laundry. And I have done many many many loads of washing with my 3 little boys!

And I would definitely like to try and grow my own tree. I know that money doesn't grow on trees, but laundry soap sure does :)

Unknown said...

Thank you to the Originator of this post. I tried using the soap nuts today for my laundry and I am VERY pleased with the results. I had been doing some research on it, and now I'm glad I took the chance.

My research found that soap nuts are also grown in the south...states such as the carolinas. Apparently people have it growing in their backyard and are not even aware they have it! Does anybody know anything further on this?


Anonymous said...

I think it's funny all this stuff about Green Virgin Products and Naturoli/Soap nuts pro. I have been using soap nuts for about 2 years now and have tried all the main brands. I have to admit that Green Virgin and Naturoli are 2 of the best but the nod goes to Green Virgin because of several reasons.

1. The GVP had less debris. In fact the GVP had absolutly no debris.
2. GVP sells by Kilos so you get 10% extra for less money. 1 Kilo equals 2.2 lbs.
3. GVP's prices are lower.
4. GVP includes extra wash bags.

About soap nuts pro. It says all over the site Soap nuts pro recommends Naturoli. That by definition is misleading advertising. Once your cought red handed in a lie you lose all credibility with the public.

fireplug said...

Hi a!

You are correct. Various species grow all over the world. The key is to harvest them when fully ripened to maximize the saponin content of the berries.

Let me provide an excellent reference for you from the University of Florida:

You will find articles on both the Florida (saponaria) and Western (drummondii) Soapberry.

I have used the saponaria species, which closely resembles trifoliatus (smaller than mukorossi). They worked! My test were casual (not "lab efficacy" grade tests) but gave me a good idea of what I could expect. I made liquid to experiment. They were weaker in saponin content than either mukorossi or trifoliatus, but I could compensate by adding more berries and/or cooking longer to extract more saponin.

I've spoken to some who said they didn't work, however I'm certain that was a function of ripeness - not species.

Pretty cool, huh?

I know some growers who are beginning to cultivate various species of the trees. It takes many years for them to flower and bare fruit, so it will be quite awhile before we have bounties of them grown in the US. They are very prolific producers once they start producing. So if you can find a nice big mature tree, I'm sure it would go a long way for the average user - and some neighbors, too!

Good luck!


P.S. Whatcha' think of the post that came in 58 minutes after yours. It never did address anything regarding your post and/or your question. Geeesh... I hope this helps. :-)

P.P.S. You can thank Christopher Chandler for this original posting. He wrote it in 2007! (Way ahead of almost everybody.) I can't find much about Christopher now. I don't know what the story is.

I hope all is well with you, Christopher! Don't be a stranger if you are still writing.

Anonymous said...

I apologise, but, in my opinion, you are not right. I can prove it. Write to me in PM.

fireplug said...

LOL! Ummm... Well thanks for the "my opinion" qualifier. It's ALL opinion. I guess I missed something. There was nothing of rightness or wrongness regarding my experiences or references in response to "a". btw: I couldn't PM you if I wanted to. You're "anonymous", silly. Regardless, given your comment that I found completely inappropriate and wholly distasteful, I have absolutely nothing whatsoever that I'd enjoy discussing with you. Okie dokie? You have a good life!

Exeterra said...

Hi, just to let you all know, I am still alive, but I decided to let the blog fall into inactivity so I could focus on my phd and other responsibilities for the past few years. I do read all the comments however, and I am glad the original post has been helpful and there is still an active comment thread three years later. Likewise, I appreciate all the suggestions and tips provided by the commenters. The number of people interested in soap nuts definitely seems to be growing.

firelug said...

Good to hear from you, Christopher!!!! Wow, thought you might have moved on to other things or something. Glad you are well and active. Phd? Well done, my man!
Good luck!

Lu said...

Thank you so much for this info! I found this article last year, and for some reason, I saved this information. Yesterday, the reason why I saved the article became very clear: I found 3 seeds in a bag of soapnuts!! Now I can grow them, hopefully I'll get beautiful trees and some natural detergent. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

So can we have an update of how the trees are now... have u seen any fruit yet?

Anonymous said...

Thanks fro all the information here! It just ocurred to me...could you try to partially open/scar the seed with a nut cracker? Just wondering...

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks fro all the information here! It just ocurred to me...could you try to partially open/scar the seed with a nut cracker? Just wondering...

Thanks again!

Fonda LaShay said...

how many nuts will one tree produce in a year? for a small family that washes maybe 2x a week.. would one tree be enough? or more like 4? ect

Thanks! I am going to be planting soon!

fireplug said...



It should help.

There's a spammer a few posts up. Noticed they've been on the attack recently. They're such creeps...

Scott said...

Very cool, thanks for this info. I would love to give this a try but unfortunately the size of my property is too small to support another tree :(

If we ever encounter a seed however, I think we will give it a shot growing one in a pot in the house and see what happens!

Anonymous said...

Invasive plant?

Does anyone know if this plant has a history or potential of becoming invasive? As much as I want to grow one, I'd hate to be the one starting another Kudzu episode.

--Worried in GA

fireplug said...

Good for you to be so thoughtful. No worries. It is "invasive" in such fashion as an Aspen tree is. Many common trees are.

Kudzu is an extraordinarily fast growing, edible, vine-like WEED, hence why originally introduced in the US. Grows at a rate of about a foot per day. Great for a starving nation, but why here???? Duh...

Sapindus are extremely slow growing TREES taking nearly a decade before baring fruit (reproducing). Mukorossi is indigenous to China. Only after thousand of years did it migrate down though Nepal and Northern India.

There's an article on about the trees and Green Deanne has a great video about Kudzu. Just Google for it, you'll find it easily.

Check these out. You're kinda' comparing an apple to an orange. (Not the best analogy, but first to mind.)

No issue or concern at all.

tudishravan said...

No doubt, there are so many advantages with soap nuts. but this is not the tree which you can grow at home according to Vaasthu. these are good to grow in the agriculture fields

Blockhill (NZ) said...

I live in New Zealand and recently purchased some young soap nut trees from Appletons Tree Nursery in Nelson.

Hopefully they grow here in North Canterbury. We do have other Asian species...

Time will tell.

natacha lee said...

Hi there. We've had a tree growing for nearly four years and it's amazing how durable it is after being stripped twice by our little boy, snapped by the dog and attacked by a basketball. At one stage it was just a stem but burst in to foliage again this spring. We've finally put it into a huge pot and notice the tap root wasn't straight like we thought but curled around in a circle even though it had plenty of room to go down.

I'm wondering how yours are going now seeing as they are about the same age...? J

Jenn said...

You may want to check out this site about soap nuts, they seem to have copy & pasted some of your wording for their instructions for growing soap nuts.

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...

Hi I'm a current student at Drexel University, in Philadelphia and I am working on a project regarding the soap nut tree(Sapindus Mukorossi). I am having trouble locating a soap nut tree; to gather branches , leaves, seeds, and fruits. If anyone could tell me where I can find a soap nut tree or willing to donate parts of their tree, please contact me at Thank you for your help.

jkibler said...

Have you contacted Try writing to (author and moderator). There are good articles about the sapindus trees, seeds and growing them, about everything you can imagine... Many pictures and even video. Try that!
Good luck!

Unknown said...

hi, I am from India and live in bangalore. Of late, I have been trying to source soapnut in this city and country; u can't imagine my despair. The companies doing business in this are 100% export units, the stuff is unavailable for sale in stores in India, and all we as indians, for whom the tree is native, can do is to source it online at prices like Rs.250/- for 400gms i.e. 5 dollars for almost a pound. International prices for something that grows here. what a national shame. I won't be surprised that the stuff is being reimported into India and then sold to us locally!!

Unconditional Mum said...

I just found a soap nuts seed in my soap nuts. I was excited as I 'd love to have a go at growing a soap nut the, and I came across your blog searching.

Arje Opiskelija said...

You can also use a mini grinder to cut through the shell of the seed.
Practice on a round stone first and once you got your grinding technique working nicely, move to the seed... ;)

mohan1948 said...

Thanks for the info. In India we had dozens of soapnut trees, and i can recall the nuts were used by the ladies for washing their long hair, but never realised that they are equally good in the washing machine. Thanks for the wonderful writeup.

fireplug said...

Here's the bottom line:

The uses for saponin are virtually endless! In essence, it is Mother Nature's safe alternative to toxic chemical sulfates - that are in almost everything used for cleaning (personal care or household)!

NaturOli held what was called "The EXTREME Challenge" on their Facebook page. (EXTREME 18X is their liquid saponin concentrate.) It was amazing to see ALL of the uses people had come up with. Many were ones I had never even thought of before. It was cool!

You should be able to find it at:

I get lost using Timeline still, but it was a couple months ago.

We are only scratching the surface of what we can do with soap nuts. It's the tip of an iceberg!

Oh, there's a new post called "Beyond Laundry" on SoapNutsPro. It's the first of a series. Try:

I thought it was well done. Am anxious to see the follow up articles.

Val said...

My Soapnut trees are now about 2.5metres tall (4-5 years old) but the trunks are really thin. I have grown them indoors and now they are about to hit the ceiling and I am going to have to risk them outdoors as soon as it warms up a little more. Anyone know how to get them to thicken up? I'm concerned wind my snap them off and they are too high to build a shelter around the tops. Many thanks Val :)

Arguenot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arguenot said...

I have never posted to a blog before, but I wanted to say thank you for these incredible posts. I learned about and bought my first bag of Soapnuts yesterday, and now I can't wait to open my bag to hopefully find a nut.
2 questions.
1) anyone figure out the cold hardiness of these trees yet?
2) anyone try another plant, such as
SAPONARIA ocymoides Rock soapwort
Which is supposed to grow in US Zones 2-7.
AND, I went to Wiki, and checked out the post for Sapindus. Not gonna believe this but it mentions a plant that grows in my area, and there, in a photo, is a plant I have seen on my property!!! Oh yes experimenting time, with old rags lol.
Also could not believe the potential other uses (per Wiki): Birth Control, Migraine remedy, epilepsy, and kills mosquito larva!
Here is a plant that I thought was a nuisance this whole time and it turns out to be soap gold and maybe more!
Wonder what other treasures are right beneath our feet, or out in our yard, totally forgotten.

jkibler said...

If you need seeds, here's a link.

Saponaria grows wild in Mexico. Given the foothills of the Himalayans as a primary growth region, you have to assume they will be cold tolerant. It's far from a temperate climate with well defined seasonal variations.

Compare the zones of northern India and western Nepal where mukorossi flourishes.

Sooner or later somebody is going to start planting groves in the US. It's all a function of demand. And demand is really taking off! Just like you people are beginning to recognize that they are "soap gold". Love how you put that.

The more you learn the more intriguing they become. They are most certainly amazing. I believe we are still just scratching the surface of their potential.

NaturOli developed the first user friendly liquid soap berry shampoo, and it took off like a rocket! The raw powder had been being used for ages for hair care, so it's about time... It's smaller companies like NaturOli that are making things happen. P&G sure won't. There are ZERO chemical in NaturOli's shampoo. It's 100% botanical! Not P&Gs cup of tea.

I wonder what the next decade will bring???? The big boys will fight it. But how? Most of us are recognizing the "greenwashed" products. EWG has started a database for cleaners that's akin to Skin Deep. Check out their "Hall of Shame". It's a sneak peek at what's to come. It's an real eye opener!

Good luck. Wish I could give you more specifics. It's just going to take time for better data to become available. But it's coming!!!

Val said...

I tied growing the saponaian seeds but had no luck. The seeds are much smaller and have a similar hardness. I couldn't get any to sprout at all. They are suppose to be smaller shrub/tree and hardier. I will have to try my regular trees outside in the next few months so they get through a windy cold winter so I'll let you know if they survive.
Happy growing :)

Unknown said...

Knowledge giving Article! I appreciate you. I completely agree with you. If we talk about current scenario then it is must be update. I enjoyed reading. I would like to visit more for more queries.
soap nuts

Naomi Rose Designs said...

I'd be interested in knowing how the trees are doing.

Michael Nelson said...

I'm in South Australia any knowledge of suitability of conditions here?

Igor said...

Thanks for the help! We are about to start to grow our own trees, so I hope they will live :) we have bought the seeds on ebay for relatively small price. We are trying to live as independent as possible, so after learning to use baking soda and vinegar instead of toxic commercial cleaners, these soap nuts are a natural way to go further. Tnx again!

Vani said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u.

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Anonymous said...

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Alice said...

Can soap nuts be grown in the pot without planting them in the ground cause I live an apartment.

James Tinker said...

Can you grow a soapnut tree in the UK?

Janine said...

I live in Texas (Austin area) and have about six Mukorossi soap nut trees I started indoors from seed (super easy --took only about three weeks to sprout) that are now about six months old and doing really well. I'm at the point where I'm ready to plant them outdoors but now it's December with possible freezes Jan/Feb. I'm going to wait now until March and plant them outdoors. I'm eager to see if they survive after that. My fiancé already has the southern variety soapnut trees growing out on his property that we just discovered this fall...

PerverZo said...

Dear Exeterra,

Could you provide us an update on your soapnut trees, please? I found your atricle very useful. It would be nice to know the status of your trees and the experience you gained during the years :)
I have just planted my seeds and eager to know the prospects.
Thank you in advance!


Unknown said...

I live in India. our grand mothers used this nut to all cleaning purposes. We have trees also. Very happy to know that people around the world is using this ln lieu of detergents.
joe john.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your information. In Lakeland, FL, my grandmother had a China Berry Tree, which I loved. The tree is beautiful, and has three colorful stages of blooming and nut production.
A few weeks ago I learned that the China Berry Tree is also known as a Soap Nut tree which grows wild in Florida. Because I know what to look for, I have spotted four or five of these trees loosing their colorful pinkish orange nut pods (which later turn black). Can't wait to collect the results. I am hoping to find some seedlings to transplant but will also start growing some of the seeds.

The lady that told me about the trees also told me that the soap nut is the reason the Seminole Indians were never defeated. The natives knew the soap as a powerful insecticide but the white man had no protection from the disease ridden mosquitoes. Every campaign to subdue the Seminoles led to catastrophe and defeat.

Unknown said...

Can I grow this tree in a zone 4

Unknown said...

Can this tree grow in a zone 4, thank you

Gardner said...

I think this tree is common of America

Blue Shelly said...

I want to plant soap nut/ soap berry? How can we find a seedling for this?

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Unknown said...

Hi all, The Asian Indians have been using soapberries for years [called Aritha], but a commercial product I have not seen until now. A new product/kickstarter campaign just announced a whole line of Soapberry products.
The website has a nice list of uses for the Soapberry.

I'm not endorsing the product, nor have any affiliation with the website or it's products/owners. Just sharing info.

Hope it helps!

Unknown said...

Lots of great info, but a newbe re the plant culture and hope my citing of confusion might spark an interest in querey of existing natives.
Gleened and questions:
On found a usda link w/ plant data
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae –
Genus Sapindus L. – soapberry
Plants Profile for Sapindus (soapberry)
The Plants Database includes the following 4 species of Sapindus..
A brief scan of the source doc headings, I saw one 'flora in MO' also giving hope there are hardy varieties already native here. Will post what I find out when possible, and chk in for others input. Wouldn't it be great if growing natural cleaner became available nation/ world wide?

Unknown said...

Update: Researching for a soapberry plant that is good for temperate zones
More sp/cult names came up for further research (any info contributions appreciated):
Sapindus Laurifolius (Z?), is a trijugate-leaved type (i.e. trifoliatus). Sapindus emarginatus Z? (S.drummondii Z7b+ and S.Laurifolius I've found out =forms/cultivars of Trifoliatus)
SAPONARIA Ocymoides (Rock soapwort) is a soapnut reported to grow in US Zones 2-7. (Any known shrub-forms? Quality? Also heard of indigenous soaproot plant, another catagory?)
Western (drummondii) I found this listed as a trifoliatus form hardy to Z7b+ @ while searching "how to grow soap nut" and found S.Mukorossi (Z9+) seed also for sale @], but don't know this seller's rep.
Hope this helps others like me wanting to grow in colder climate.

Unknown said...

For those like me who don't have room for a huge tree, nor 4-10yrs to wait, I have found that the perennial soapwart is a good, fast alternative. Here's a link to a good article:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this blog. I am Archana, from Kerala, India. I have been trying to germinate soapnut seds. Many research articles suggested, scarification, needling, etc. A comment on your blog suggested soaking in hot water. I soaked my seeds in regular water for 5 days and some of the seed pores opened up naturally! So now i am getting to the next step of planting them in too I will try your idea of planting in used 2 litre bottles.
Thanks a ton!

Income stream said...

I have ordered some on ebay. I will try and plant.

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Vishnu said...

This page has very useful information. We in India use soap nuts for washing oily hair but never knew the other ways to use it. I heard that even gold jewellery can also be washed to clean them of dirt .I am planning to grow few trees this monsoon.

Vishnu said...

@ archana waran , i recommend to use small clay pots that would easily help the seed to germinate

Unknown said...

Hi having read your original blog in 2007 on growing soap nut trees in the uk was just wondering how the trees are progressing giving that it is 12 years later. We have 15 soap nut seeds and want to grow them so if there are any additional tips you can provide would be extremely grateful.

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Such an informative blog!
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Unknown said...

I am from India I tried many times to grow soap nut buy couldn't succeed your information on this would help me try once again thanks.

John Moorey said...

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shivani said...

Dear Exeterra,

Many thanks for sharing this information. I moved in the UK since six year from India. When I was in India, I can get easily this soap nuts for shampooing hair. In the UK, it is quiet costly. Could I ask you where did you grow this soap nut tree? I mean is it in UK weather? What did you do to keep it secure from winter?


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