This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Trees or shrubs, with alternate mostly odd-pinnate leaves, and regular polygamo-dioecious flowers in terminal or axillary racemes or panicles. Sepals 4-5, imbricated in 2 rows. Petals of the same number, each with a scale at its base. Disk annular, hypogynous. Stamens 8-10, inserted on the disk; anthers versatile. Ovary 2-4-lobed (commonly 3-lobed), with the same number of cavities; ovules 1 in each cavity, ascending; style slender; stigma 2-4-lobed. Fruit a globose or lobed berry with 1-3 seeds. [Name, Sapo Indicus, Indian soap, from the soapy quality of the berries.]
About 10 species, natives of warm and tropical Asia and America. S. Saponaria L., the generic type, occurs in Florida.
S. Drummondii H. & A. Bot. Beechey's Voy. 281. 1841. Sapindus acuminatus Raf. New Flora N. A. 3: 22. 1836.
A tree, with maximum height of about 500 and trunk diameter of 2°, the bark fissured when old. Leaves pinnate, glabrous above, sparingly pubescent beneath, 5-18' long; leaflets 7-19, inequilateral, obliquely lanceolate, often falcate, entire, 1 1/2'-4' long, acuminate at the apex and commonly acute at the base; rachis not winged; panicles terminal, 5-8' long, dense; flowers white, about 2" broad; petals ovate; berry globose or oval, 4'-7" in diameter, very saponaceous, usually I-seeded and with 2 abortive ovules at its base.
River valleys and hillsides, Missouri to Louisiana, Kansas, Texas, Arizona and northern Mexico. Wood hard, light yellowish brown; weight per cubic foot 59 lbs; used in Texas for cotton baskets. Berries used as a substitute for soap. Included, in our first edition, in the description of Sapindus marginŕtus Willd., of the Southeastern States, which differs in having lanceolate petals. May-June.