Sapindus marginatus, commonly called the Florida Soapberry, is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree with an open-rounded crown. It is native to Florida and Georgia and it grows in woodlands and forests, often among live oaks and other hardwoods. It typically grows to 20-40' (infrequently to 80’) tall. It is noted for its (a) often glossy, pinnately-compound, medium green leaves (to 8-13” long) with 7-15 untoothed, lanceolate leaflets (each to 2-4” long), (b) creamy-white to yellowish-white flowers (1/8” wide) which bloom in late spring (May-June) in large open panicles to 10-12" long, (c) panicles of usually one-seeded, grape-like fruits which ripen in fall (September-October) to yellow-brown to orange-brown (d) yellow fall foliage color, and (e) fissured gray bark divided into scaly plates. The fruits are not edible. They can be put in water to produce a saponin-rich soapy lather which can be used as a soap, as suggested by the common name of soapberry. It is a rare and collectable plant.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Soak the seed in water for 24 hours.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a layer of soil about 1 inch thick.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.