The SoapNut (Sapindus mukorossi)
Many people are trying to find way to clean their laundry, etc, while also utilizing less waste overall. Most detergents come in a plastic bottle, but one berry that is making waves in the eco-friendly world are soapnuts, or washnuts. Let's learn more about this small berries.
Physical description and Behavior
The berries of the Sapindus genus all have a fascinating property where they act very similar to soap. This is because they create a compound known as saponin, which bubbles up when exposed to water the same way soap does. Many people around the world use these to clean, specifically the mukorossi species, which is the most common.
Despite being called a "nut," the part of the berry that holds the saponin is actually the dried berry part. One tree can produce about 75 pounds a fruit per year, meaning that these berries can be harvested over and over again without harming the base tree.
The three itself can grow as much as 82 feet, with the girth of up to 16 feet. They sprout tiny greenish-white flowers during the summer, which ripen into fruit by about November or December.
Habitat and Location
This plant lives in the Himalayas around India, even though it has been introduced in a few other places, such as China, and apparently Georgia state. It prefers soil which is similar to clay, and does best in areas with about 80 inches of rainfall annually.
The berries are not edible, and are even used as a fish poison in some areas. But due to the fact that the trees can grow in poor quality soil, many farmers in India plant them on their farms.
Learn a little more about them by checking out this video!