Index- plants in this Family
Caryophyllaceae / Pink
Bouncingbet (Saponaria officinalis)
Bouncingbet is also known as Soapwort, Brusewort, Fuller's Herb and several other names.

Plant Type: This is a non-native herbaceous plant which can reach 100cm in height (39inches).
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 7.5cm in length (3inches). Each leaf is entire and can be ovate or lanceolate. There are three main leaner veins.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 2.5cm wide (1 inches). They are white sometimes pink. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into early fall. The calyx is shaped like a bottle and the petals have a narrow notch. The flowers are in a group of tight clusters on stems from the axils of the leaves near the top of the plant. Extra petals or double flowers are often seen.
Habitat: Fields, fencerows and waste places.
Range: Throughout the U. S.

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Daniel Reed

Brought to America from England by colonists it is now found almost throughout the U.S.

Lore: As the name implies the a lather can be produced from the foliage of this plant. The saponins in this plant have been valued as a cleanser for all manner of things from skin to metals. The name Bouncing Bet is an old fashion name for a wash woman.(Olmstead) Thought it is considered toxic the Dutch used it to give a better head to beer and saponins are still used for that purpose.(Dobelis)

Medical Uses: A tea from the leaves has been used as a diuretic, laxative and expectorant. The lather has been used to clean the skin effected by poison ivy or other rashes and acne. It has been poulticed on various skin sores.
: The plant is considered toxic in large doses.

Similar Species: Cowherb or Cow Cockle (S. vaccaria) is more slender and only grows to about 60cm (2'). The calyx has five sides and the pink flowers are smaller than those of S. officinalis.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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