Saponaria(Soapwort)Saponaria is a small genus of roughly 30 species of plants closely related to lychnis, silene, and dianthus. Although the genus Saponaria is native only to Europe and Asia, certain species have escaped gardens and grow wild in disturbed sites such as roadsides and river banks all over the US. Saponaria is a genus of annual and perennial wildflowers that are as useful as they are beautiful.
The flowers, leaves, and especially the roots of saponaria plants are filled with saponin glycosides. For thousands of years, people have been extracting these saponins by boiling saponaria plant parts in water. This releases the saponins which foam up in the water and make a gentle but effective liquid soap. Saponaria is also used in cooking. The popular Middle Eastern sweet, halvah, sometimes contains saponaria root extract as one of the ingredients.
Saponaria is a very versatile plant. It can live in a variety of locales...wet or dry, sunny or shady, acid or basic. Once established, saponaria requires little care and is very tough. The plants are not well-branched but spread via rhizomes or re-seed to form dense, attractive colonies. Saponaria flowers attract butterflies and are held in clusters at the tips of the stem. The 1" flowers are usually white, yellow or pink. When you are ready to buy saponaria for your garden, check out out list of soapwort for sale.
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