CWMA

PO Box 419

Hotchkiss, CO 81419

 

970-361-8262

fax: 720-880-3051


Email:contact@cwma.org

 

 

Bouncingbet

Saponaria officinalis L.

 

Keys to Identification

  • Flowers are clustered at the ends of branches
  • Bouncingbet leaves originate from slightly swollen nodes

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program

 

Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink)

Other Names: soapwort, lady by the garden gate

USDA Code:
SAOF4

Legal Status: Colorado Noxious Weed List B

 

 

Identification

Growth form: Perennial forb.

Flower: The flowers are crowded at the ends of branches, and have five petals that are generally pink and slightly notched at the apex. July-Sept.

Seeds/Fruit: Fruits are many-seeded capsules. Seeds are dull-black and roundish or kidney-shaped.

Leaves: Leaves are opposite, smooth, narrow, 2-4 in long and have three distinct veins from the base.

Stems: Mature plants are up to 3 ft tall with stout, erect, smooth, branching stems.

Roots: Rhizomatous root system

Seedling: No information available.

 

 

Similar Species

Exotics: None known.

Natives: Cerastium spp. (mouse-ear) have separate (usually white) petals instead of united petals. Many other members of the pink family appear similar.

 

 

Impacts

Agricultural: Can be poisonous to livestock although it is generally considered unpalatable.

Ecological: Spreads rapidly, replacing more valuable species (e.g. perennial grasses).

 

 

Habitat and Distribution

General requirements: Often found in large dense patches on hillsides, along river courses, roadsides, meadows, and waste areas. It prefers moist, well-drained soil, and full sun to partial shade and is currently found primarily in municipal areas and nearby wildlands.

Distribution: Scattered throughout the United States. Bouncingbet is increasingly common in Colorado, particularly in residential areas and local open spaces where it has escaped cultivation as an ornamental species.

Historical: Originally introduced from Europe as a garden ornamental and for its saponins, which are the source of it soap-producing qualities (Lokker and Cavers 1995).

 

 

Biology/Ecology

Life cycle: Flowering begins in July and continues until September.

Mode of reproduction: Reproduces by seed and spreads clonally by rhizomes.

Seed production: No information available.


Seed bank: No information available.


Dispersal: No information available.

 

 

References

Lokker, C. and P.B. Cavers. The effects of physical damage on seed production in flowering plants of Saponaria officinalis. Canadian Journal of Botany 73:235-243.

Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 1996. Bouncingbet. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark, CA.

 

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