Med Plant Data Base


Moldo-german project 10.820.09.09GA
Evaluation of the pharmaceutic potential
of medicinal plants from natural habitats from Republic of Moldova


Saponaria officinalis L.

KINGDOM: Plantae » Class: Magnoliopsida » Order: Caryophyllales » Family: Caryophyllaceae

Saponaria officinalis L.


Saponaria officinalis L.



Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Genus: Saponaria

Species:S. officinalis

Plant description

Common Soapwort (Saponaria
officinalis) is a vespertine flower, and a common perennial plant from the
carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). Other common names are Bouncing Bet and
Sweet William; locally it is simply "the Soapwort" although there are
about 20 species of soapworts altogether.

The scientific name Saponaria is derived from the Latin sapo (stem sapon-)
meaning "soap," which, like its common name, refers to its utility
in cleaning. From this same Latin word is derived the name of the toxic
substance saponin, contained in the roots at levels up to 20 percent when the
plant is flowering (Indian soapnuts contain only 15 percent). It produces a
lather when in contact with water. The epithet officinalis indicates its medicinal

Soapwort's native range extends throughout Europe to western Siberia. It
grows in cool places at low or moderate elevations under hedgerows and along
the shoulders of roadways.

The plants possesses leafy, unbranched stems (often tinged with red). It
grows in patches, attaining a of 70 cm. The broad, lanceolate, sessile
leaves are opposite and between 4 and 12 cm long. Its sweetly scented flowers
are radially symmetrical and pink, or sometimes white. Each of the five flat
petals have two small scales in the throat of the corolla. They are about 2.5
cm wide. They are arranged in dense, terminal clusters on the main stem and
its branches. The long tubular calyx has five pointed red teeth.

In the northern hemisphere soapwort blooms from May to September, and in
the southern hemisphere October to March.

Diffusion area

North America, Europe


Can be met on the river edges,
near fences and along cultivated lands.

Therapeutic actions

External use

As the name implies, it can be used as a very gentle soap, usually in
dilute solution. It has historically been used to clean delicate or unique
textiles; it has been hypothesized that the plant was used to treat the
Shroud of Turin.

Internal use

Soapwort has various medicinal functions as an expectorant and laxative,
but care should be taken when used as saponins may be toxic. An overdose can
cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Despite its toxic potential, soapwort finds culinary use as an emulsifier
in the commercial preparation of tahini halva, and in brewing to create beer
with a good "head". In India, the rhizome is used as a

Biologically active substances

Saporubins, lipids.

Indigenous medicinal plants in databases

Albastrele Centaurea cyanus L.

Albumeala Gnaphalium

uliginosum L.

Alun Corylus avellana L.

Angelica Angelica arhangelica L.

Ardei Capsicum annuum L.

Arin Alnus incana Moanch.

Armurariu Silybum marianum


Aronie Aronia melanocarpa

(Michx.) Elliot

Centers, institutes, research labs of medicinal plants


Farmakognosia, by Raimo Hiltunen (in finnish)

Shroud of Turin

Seasoning Savvy: How to Cook With Herbs, Spices, and Other Flavorings By
Alice Arndt, p.215

Purple Sage page on Soapwort

Genetic characteristics

2n = 28

Gathering place (figure should be increased)

Saponaria officinalis L.

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Copyright © Gincota Filipp