Sapindus saponaria, Florida Soapberry
Florida Soapberry can be found growing in the tropical parts of America up into central Florida. Its tolerance to alkaline soil makes it a good choice for planting in south Florida but large quantities are usually not available at nurseries. A center leader should be generated by removing or shortening branches and leaders that compete with the trunk in the central part of the tree. Shorten competing branches with subordinating reduction cuts. No irrigation is needed to maintain the tree in humid climates once it is well established. Foliage is considered poisonous when ingested.
Soapberry should be grown in full sun and will tolerate almost any soil.
It is highly drought- and salt-tolerant. Soapberry can be planted in low
maintenance landscapes for the unusually prominent, orange-colored berries.
They require little care other than some initial pruning to direct growth
and to develop a strong branch structure. The bushy growth habit of this
medium-sized tree combines nicely with shrubs and ground covers planted
beneath and around the tree.
Many trees in their native forest habitat typically have one leader or trunk for several dozen feet, then trunks divide into several codominant stems toward the top of the tree. Unless properly pruned, trees in more open landscapes develop several codominant stems fairly close to the ground.
Occurs scattered in Florida, especially abundant in the Keys.
National champion is 72 x 36 feet in Paynes Prairie State Preserve near Gainesville Florida.