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Weed Identification




Scientific Name

Saponaria officinalis

Other Common Names:


Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Lychnis saponaria


Leaves: Elliptic, ovate, or lanceolate in outline, with 3 distinct veins or nerves running the length of the leaf. Leaves range from 1 1/4 to 4 inches in length and from 1/2 to 2 inches in width. Leaves are without petioles (sessile). Stems: Erect, 2 to 6 inches tall, usually without hairs. Stems often produce a soapy lather when crushed.

Identifying Characteristics

A perennial that primarily occurs in pastures and hay fields of Virginia. Often called soapwort because it produces a soapy lather when crushed, this weed was grown by early settlers for use as a cleaning detergent and soap. Plants usually occur in colonies. Additionally, the 3-nerved leaves and stems that produce a soapy lather are characteristics that help in the identification of bouncingbet prior to flowering. This weed might be confused with White Campion (Silene alba), which also can form dense colonies in pastures and hay fields, but white campion is covered with hairs unlike bouncingbet

Flower Seed Head

Flowers: Occur in clusters at the ends of stems. Flowers consist of 5 white to pink petals.

Seed Fruit

A long (10-12 mm), elliptical capsule.

Where Found

Bouncingbet was also cultivated during the Industrial Revolution when cloth was first manufactured on a large scale. Bouncingbet was introduced from Europe and is now distributed throughout North America. Bouncing-bet is perhaps most noticeable when it produces it's showy flowers in September to October.

Life Cycle


Plant Type