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Saponaria officinalis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CaryophyllaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: PINK FAMILY
Habit: Annual to perennial herb; rarely dioecious (Silene), taprooted or rhizome generally slender. Leaf: simple, generally opposite (subwhorled), entire, pairs at nodes often +- connected at bases; stipules generally 0; petiole generally 0. Inflorescence: generally cyme, generally open; flowers 1--many; involucre generally 0 (present in Dianthus, Petrorhagia). Flower: generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium often present but obscure; sepals (4)5, +- free or fused into a tube, margins generally scarious, more so on inner 2 or not, tube generally not scarious, awns generally 0; petals (4)5 or 0, generally tapered to base (or with claw long, limb expanded), entire to 2--several-lobed, limb generally without scale-like appendages adaxially, generally without ear-like lobes at base; stamens generally 10, generally fertile, generally free, generally from ovary base; nectaries 0 or 5; ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, placentas basal or free-central, styles 2--5 with 0 branches or 1 with 2--3 branches. Fruit: capsule or utricle (rarely +- dehiscent), generally sessile.
Genera In Family: 83 or 89 genera, 3000 species: widespread, especially arctic, alpine, temperate northern hemisphere; some cultivated (Agrostemma, Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus, Gypsophila, Lychnis, Sagina, Saponaria, Silene, Vaccaria). Note: Apetalous Caryophyllaceae can also be keyed in Rabeler & Hartman 2005 FNANM 5:5--8.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ronald L. Hartman & Richard K. Rabeler, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: SaponariaView Description 

Common Name: SOAPWORT
Habit: Perennial herb, erect, rhizomed. Leaf: petioled or not; blade oblanceolate to ovate; veins 3. Inflorescence: terminal, dense; flowers 20--40+; pedicels generally 0--3 mm. Flower: sepals 5, fused, tube prominent, 15--20 mm, 4--8 mm diam, lanceolate to oblong, rounded, veins 20, obscure, lobes 5, 1.5--5 mm, triangular-acuminate; petals 5, 25--40 mm, claw long, limb entire to +- obcordate, appendages 2; stamens fused with petals to ovary stalk; styles 2, 12--15 mm. Fruit: capsule, +- ovoid; stalk 2--3 mm; valves 4, ascending to recurved. Seed: many, +- purple to black.
Species In Genus: 40 species: Eurasia, northern Africa. Etymology: (Latin: soap, from sap lathering with water) Note: Saponaria ocymoides L. not in California.

Saponaria officinalis L.
Habit: Plant 3--9+ dm, +- glabrous. Stem: simple or branched above. Leaf: 3--10 cm. Inflorescence: peduncles ascending or erect, bracted. Flower: calyx tube obdepressed around pedicel, +- narrowed near base, lobes unequal, thinly scarious; petals pink, limb 8--12 mm wide, obovate, appendages 1--2 mm, lance-linear. Seed: 1.5--2 mm, +- spheric, notched, +- compressed, tubercled. Chromosomes: 2n=28.
Ecology: Roadsides, oak woodland, streambeds, disturbed areas; Elevation: < 1850 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRH, n SNF, SnFrB, SCoRO, SCo, PR, GB; Distribution Outside California: North America; native to southern Europe. Flowering Time: Jun--Sep Note: "Double-flowered" cultivars also naturalized.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ronald L. Hartman & Richard K. Rabeler
Jepson Online Interchange
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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botanical illustration including Saponaria officinalis


Citation for this treatment: Ronald L. Hartman & Richard K. Rabeler 2016. Saponaria officinalis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 28, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 28, 2016.

Saponaria officinalis
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© 2015 Barry Breckling
Saponaria officinalis
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© 2008 Keir Morse
Saponaria officinalis
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© 2009 Neal Kramer
Saponaria officinalis
click for enlargement
© 2009 Neal Kramer
Saponaria officinalis
click for enlargement
© 2009 Neal Kramer
Saponaria officinalis
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Saponaria officinalis in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Saponaria officinalis:
NW, CaRH, n SNF, SnFrB, SCoRO, SCo, PR, GB;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.