Soap plant
Wavy-leafed Soap Plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Chlorogalum

Chlorogalum angustifolium
Chlorogalum grandiflorum
Chlorogalum parviflorum
Chlorogalum pomeridianum
Chlorogalum purpureum

The Soap Plants, Soaproots or Amoles are the genus Chlorogalum of flowering plants. Less common names for them include Soap Lilies. They are endemic to western North America, from Oregon to Baja California, and are mostly found in California.

The Soap Plants grow as perennial plants, from a bulb, more or less elongated depending on the species. The bulbs can be white or brown, and in most species are very fibrous. The leaves grow from the base of the plant. The flowers are borne on a long central stem, and appear to have six rather separate petals (not all are petals in the technical sense). There are 6 stamens, which are rather prominent in most species.

The placement of the genus Chlorogalum has varied considerably. In the APG III system, followed here, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae, based on molecular systematics evidence.[1] Until the 1980s, it was generally treated in the Lily family, Liliaceae, in the order Liliales, and conservative taxonomic sources such as ITIS still put it there. It has also been placed in its own family, Chorogalaceae, or in a group within the hyacinth family Hyacinthaceae (now Scilloideae), in the order Asparagales. Phylogenetic studies based on molecular evidence (e.g. Pfosser and Speta 1999), suggested that, along with Camassia, Chlorogalum seemed to be most closely related to the genera such as Agave and Anthericum.

Five species are currently classified in the genus. All except the Wavy-leafed Soap Plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum, have rather restricted distributions, with little overlap. The Wavy-leafed Soap Plant, however, has a range that virtually encompasses those of all other members of the genus, and is the most common of them.


Many of California's Native American tribes traditionally used soaproot, which contains saponin, as a fish poison. They would pulverize the roots, mixing in water to create a foam, and then add the suds to a stream. This would kill or incapacitate the fish, which could be gathered easily from the surface of the water. Among the tribes using this technique were the Lassik, the Luiseño, the Yuki, the Yokut, the Chilula, the Wailaki, the Miwok, the Kato, the Mattole, the Nomlaki and the Nishinam.[2]

The abundant, tough external fibers sheathing the bulbs of C. pomeridinaum var. pomeridianum were used by native peoples of California to craft brushes and combs.[citation needed]

soaproot brush

External links


  • Pfosser, M. and Speta, F. (1999) Phylogenetics of Hyacinthaceae based on plastid DNA sequences. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 86, 852-875.

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  • Chlorogalum — Chlorogalum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chlorogalum — Chlorogalum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chlorogalum —   Chlorogalum …   Wikipedia Español

  • Chlorogalum — ID 18490 Symbol Key CHLOR3 Common Name soapplant Family Liliaceae Category Monocot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity N/A US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution CA, OR Growth Habit N/A …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Chlorogalum purpureum — var. purpureum Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Chlorogalum pomeridianum — Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Chlorogalum angustifolium — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae clade …   Wikipedia

  • Chlorogalum grandiflorum — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae …   Wikipedia

  • Chlorogalum parviflorum — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae clade …   Wikipedia

  • Chlorogalum pomeridianum — Soap Soap, n. [OE. sope, AS. s[=a]pe; akin to D. zeep, G. seife, OHG. seifa, Icel. s[=a]pa, Sw. s?pa, Dan. s?be, and perhaps to AS. s[=i]pan to drip, MHG. s[=i]fen, and L. sebum tallow. Cf. {Saponaceous}.] A substance which dissolves in water,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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