PINK FAMILY - Caryophyllaceae: Soapwort; Bouncing Bet; Hedge Pink; Bruisewort; Old Maid's Pink; Fuller's Herb

Saponaria officinalis

Flowers--Pink or whitish, fragrant, about 1 inch broad, loosely clustered at end of stem, also sparingly from axils of upper leaves. Calyx tubular, 5-toothed, about 3/4 in. long; 5 petals, the claws inserted in deep tube. Stamens 10, in 2 sets; 1 pistil with 2 styles. Flowers frequently double. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, erect, stout, sparingly branched, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, acutely oval, 2 to 3 in. long, about 1 in. wide, 3 to 5 ribbed. Fruit: An oblong capsule, shorter than calyx, opening at top by 4 short teeth or valves.

Preferred Habitat--Roadsides, banks, and waste places.

Flowering Season--June-September.

Distribution--Generally common. Naturalized from Europe.

A stout, buxom, exuberantly healthy lassie among flowers is Bouncing Bet, who long ago escaped from gardens whither she was brought from Europe, and ran wild beyond colonial farms to roadsides, along which she has travelled over nearly our entire area. Underground runners and abundant seed soon form thrifty colonies. This plant, to which our grandmothers ascribed healing virtues, makes a cleansing, soap-like lather when its bruised leaves are agitated in water.