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Western SoapberrySapindus drummondii

  • Northern Red Oak - Quercus rubra
  • Western Soapberry
  • Western Soapberry

The western soapberry earned its name because the fruit gives off a lather when mixed with water. In fact, Native Americans used the berry-like drupes as a soap substitute.

As a landscape element, the western soapberry is a great choice for dryer soils in the South and Southwest. This tree’s hardiness also helps it thrive in urban conditions.

Hardiness Zones

The western soapberry can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 6–9. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The western soapberry to a height of 25–30' and a spread of 25–40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The western soapberry grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It prefers regular watering when young but is drought-tolerant once established.


This tree:
  • Blooms from May to June, with loose panicles of yellowish-white flowers measuring 6–10" in length.
  • Provides excellent deep yellow-gold fall color.
  • Tolerates wind, drought, compacted soil and infertile soil.
  • Transplants easily and establishes with minimal irrigation.
  • Features lustrous medium green leaves that are compound (with 8–18 obliquely lanceolate leaflets) and range from 10–15" long.
  • Yields yellow-orange fruit that is under ½" in diameter and resembles a cherry.
  • Grows in a rounded, vase shape.

Wildlife Value

The western soapberry is a favorite of butterflies in early summer.


The soapberry is also called the Chinaberry, Indian soap plant, Jaboncillo or Cherrion. The fruit of the soapberry gives off a lather when mixed with water, and Native Americans used these as a soap substitute. Its native range spans from Missouri to Northern Mexico.