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bouncing-bet, bouncing-bet soapwort, bouncing-bett, common soapwort, saponaire officinale, soapwort, sweet william

Habit Plants perennial, colonial.

erect, simple or branched distally, 30–90 cm.


petiole often absent or winged, 0.1–1.5 cm;

blade strongly 3(–5)-veined, elliptic to oblanceolate or ovate, 3–11(–15) × 1.5–4.5 cm.


1–5 mm.


sometimes double;

calyx green or reddish, often cleft, 15–25 mm, glabrous or rarely with scattered trichomes;

petals pink to white, often drying to dull purple, blade 8–15 mm.


ca. 15–20 mm.


1.6–2 mm wide.


dense to open.


= 28.

Saponaria officinalis

Phenology Flowering spring–fall.
Habitat Waste places, streamsides, fields, roadsides
Elevation 0-2600 m (0-8500 ft)
from FNA
AL; AR; AZ; CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; FL; GA; IA; ID; IL; IN; KS; KY; LA; MA; MD; ME; MI; MN; MO; MS; MT; NC; ND; NE; NH; NJ; NM; NV; NY; OH; OK; OR; PA; RI; SC; SD; TN; TX; UT; VA; VT; WA; WI; WV; WY; AB; BC; MB; NB; NF; NS; ON; PE; QC; SK; Eurasia [Introduced in North America; introduced in Mexico, South America, Asia (India), Africa (Egypt), Australia]
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Saponaria officinalis, long cultivated for its showy flowers, is a widely naturalized, sometimes troublesome weed. It may persist for years about abandoned home sites. “Double”-flowered horticultural forms, which may lack functional stamens, also occur in the wild, where locally they may be as common as, or even more common than, “single”-flowered forms.

In former times, the leaves of this species were gathered and either soaked or boiled in water, the resulting liquid being used for washing as a liquid soap. Because of its saponin content, the species can be poisonous upon ingestion, in much the same manner as Agrostemma githago.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 5, p. 157.
Parent taxa Caryophyllaceae > subfam. Caryophylloideae > Saponaria
Sibling taxa
S. ocymoides
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 408. (1753)
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