Soapberry

(Sapindus saponaria) A New World tree, with white flowers followed by brown fruits, whose pulp lathers with water, and can be used as a soap substitute. They are much used for the purpose in Mexico (Roys), but they are poisonous, like those of the rest of the genus, for they contain a high percentage of saponin, and cause dermatitis (Kearney) (Indian members of the genus, like S mukorossi, are used as fish poison). These berries have some ritual significance, for Mexicans use them for necklaces and rosaries, and in ancient times the temple court was swept with the leaves of this tree in connection with the Maya baptismal ceremony (Roys).

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