Quillaja saponaria Molina

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Credits

Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

Recommended citation
'Quillaja saponaria' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/quillaja/quillaja-saponaria/). Accessed 2021-12-04.

Genus

Common Names

  • Quillay
  • Soap Tree

Other taxa in genus

    Glossary

    References

    There are no active references in this article.

    Credits

    Article from New Trees, Ross Bayton & John Grimshaw

    Recommended citation
    'Quillaja saponaria' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/quillaja/quillaja-saponaria/). Accessed 2021-12-04.

    Tree to 15 m, dbh 1 m. Bark smooth, light brown. Branchlets pubescent. Leaves leathery, 2–4 × 1–2.5 cm, elliptic, glabrous, lustrous and yellowish green, margins entire or with small, irregular teeth, apex obtuse to acute; petiole to 0.2 cm long; stipules small and caducous. Inflorescences axillary with (one to) three to five flowers, or terminal with three flowers; the central flower is hermaphrodite, while the lateral flowers are staminate. Flowers 0.1–0.15 cm diameter; sepals broadly triangular, tomentose; petals white, spathulate, alternating with sepals; stamens 10 in two whorls; nectary disk yellowish green, conspicuous. Follicles ~1.3 × 0.5–0.6 cm, leathery and tomentose, dehiscent via two valves; the five follicles arranged in the form of a star. Flowering October to January (Chile); the dry fruits remain attached to the tree for a long time. Rodríguez R. et al. 1983. Distribution CHILE: Limarí Province to Bío-Bío Province. Habitat Occurs in a variety of habitats, both dry and humid, warm and cold. USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Rodríguez R. et al. 1983; NT760, NT760.

    Quillaja saponaria derives its specific name from the high content of saponins in its bark, traditionally a soap substitute but now also a component of fire extinguisher foam (Mabberley 1997a), and used as an expectorant (Chevallier 1996). It is not an outstandingly beautiful tree, forming a dense mass of dark, glossy green foliage, but the creamy white flowers are not unattractive and the persistent five-lobed fruits are interesting and ornamental. They resemble a Star Anise fruit (Illicium). The tree can grow as a single-stemmed specimen, or it may have several stiffly upright stems. There is a fine individual at Tregrehan, multistemmed in form, which exceeded 10 m after only 15 years. Johnson (2007) reports on several other trees in the United Kingdom, including a 6 m specimen in Dundee and one of 4 m in Essex, suggesting that it is not particularly tender. It is cultivated and is in commerce in the western United States. The freely produced seed is probably the best means of propagation. It seems to be tolerant of a range of soil conditions (Hillier & Coombes 2002).