Sapindus(redirected from Soapnut)
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(soapberry), a genus of plants of the family Sapindaceae. They are evergreen or deciduous trees. The pinnate leaves are alternate, and the flowers are in terminal or axillary panicles. There are about 15 species, distributed in the tropics of Asia and America. The fruits, which contain up to 38 percent saponins, are used as soap. Soapberries are cultivated in tropical and warm countries as ornamentals and for their saponins. Three species— Sapindus saponaria, S. mucorossii, and the winter-hardy American species S. drummondii —are grown in the USSR, on the Black Sea shore of the Caucasus and, less frequently, in Transcaucasia and Middle Asia. The genus’s Russian common name, myl’noe derevo, is sometimes used to designate the goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) of the same family, which grows in East Asia and contains saponins in its bark.