Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis


Medicinal:  Although soapwort has multiple therapeutic benefits, it is primarily taken internally as an expectorant or a remedy for coughs. It is believed that the herb’s function as a potent irritant in the alimentary canal or gut invigorates the cough reaction and induces the secretion of more liquid mucus inside the respiratory tract. As a result of this property of soapwort, the herbal medical practitioners recommend the use of the aromatic plant to cure bronchitis, coughs and even some conditions of asthma (a respiratory disease caused by allergies).
The herb has other therapeutic advantages too and is used to treat rheumatic and arthritic pain. Decoctions prepared with the roots of the herb are effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema and itchiness. Even infusions prepared with the soapwort parts above the ground helps in washing the skin and bringing relief from irritations.
Warning: Soapwort, is relatively high in saponins which occur in varying amounts in many edible herbs and vegetables, but in large doses they can irritate the respiratory and digestive systems and can even function as a dangerously strong purgative. On ingestion, saponins can destroy red blood cells.

Use as soap:  A soap can be obtained by boiling the whole plant (but especially the root) in water. It is a gentle effective cleaner, used on delicate fabrics that can be harmed by synthetic soaps. The best soap is obtained by infusing the plant in warm water.  Soapwort is also a very effective shampoo if you want something really gentle for your hair.

To grow:  Soapwort spreads vigorously it has many attractive and aromatic flowers and can be used as a ground cover. Succeeds in any moderately fertile well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a neutral to alkaline soil. The root is harvested in the spring and can be dried for later herb use. Use flowers and leaves fresh as body soap.

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Height + Width:

Frost Hardiness: Hardy in Katoomba




Country of Origin: Eastern Cape of South Africa


Common names: African Dream Root, Undlela Ziimhlophe (White Ways/Paths), Ubulawu



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