Scientific Name: Saponaria officinalis

Common Name: soapwort

Other Common Names: bouncingbet

Synonyms: Lychnis saponaria

Leaves: 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 (<a href='../../weedimg/16'>Silene alba</a>), 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: perennial

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Plant family: Caryophyllaceae