- Quillaja saponaria
name = Soap bark tree
genus = "
species = "Q. saponaria"
binomial = "Quillaja saponaria"
binomial_authority = Molina
The Soap bark tree or Soapbark ("Quillaja saponaria") is an evergreen
treein the family Quillajaceae, native to warm temperate central Chilenorth to Peru. In Chile it occurs from 32 to 40° South Latitude approximately. Populations are found even 2000 m (6500 ft) above sea level. It can grow to 15-20 m (50-65 ft) in height. The tree has thick, dark bark, smooth, leathery, shiny, oval evergreenleaves 3-5 cm long, white flowers 15 mm diameter borne in dense corymbs, and a dry fruitwith five follicles each containing 10-20 seeds.
The inner bark of "Quillaja saponaria" can be reduced to powder and employed as a substitute for
soap, since it forms a lather with water, owing to the presence of a glucoside saponin, sometimes distinguished as quillaiasaponin. It also applied as an agricultural spray adjuvant. The same, or a closely similar substance, is found in soapwort (" Saponaria officinalis"), in senega root (" Polygalasenega") and in sarsaparilla; it appears to be chemically related to digitonin, which occurs in " digitalis".
Soap bark tree has a long history of medicinal use with the Andean people who used it especially as a treatment for various chest problems. It is the source of
quillaia, the extract of which is used as a food additiveand as an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and fire-fighting foam. It is used as additive for photographic films and foaming for drinks. The saponin content of the bark helps to stimulate the production of a more fluid mucousin the airways, thus facilitating the removal of phlegmthrough coughing. The saponins of this tree are also considered to have adjuvantproperties for vaccinesolutions.
The plant is drought resistant, and tolerates about -12°C (10°F) in its natural habitat [Taylor. J. 1990. The Milder Garden. Dent. A good book on plants that you didn't know could be grown outdoors in Britain.] . It is often used for
reforestationon arid soils. It has been introduced as an ornamental in California. Trees have been acclimatized in Spainbut are rarely cultivated there.The wood is used cabinetry, and scents derived from the tree are used in perfumes and cosmetics.
References and External links
*Donoso, C. 2005. Árboles nativos de Chile. Guía de reconocimiento. Edición 4. Marisa Cuneo Ediciones, Valdivia, Chile. 136p.
*Hoffmann, Adriana 1998. Flora Silvestre de Chile, Zona Central. Edición 4. Fundación Claudio Gay, Santiago. 254p.
* [http://www.florachilena.cl/Niv_tax/Angiospermas/Ordenes/Fabales/Quillajaceae/Quillay.htm "Quillaja saponaria" in Encyclopedia of the Chilean Flora]
* [http://www.chilebosque.cl/tree/qsapo.html "Quillaja saponaria" pictures from "Chilebosque"]
Köhler's Medicinal Plants
* [http://www.jardibotanic.bcn.es/22_8_eng.htm"Quillaja saponaria" in Barcelona, Catalonya, Spain]
* [http://www.drugs.com/npp/quillaja.html"Soapbark tree" widely cultivated in California and Chemical benefits]
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