Sapindus drummondii, commonly called western soapberry, is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree with an open-rounded crown. It grows to 20-50' tall and features glossy compound medium green leaves, grape like yellow-orange fruits (ornamentally attractive but toxic if ingested), deep yellow fall foliage color, and gray bark divided into scaly plates. It is native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.
Yellowish-white flowers bloom in late spring (May-June) in large open panicles to 10" long. Flowers are followed by yellow-orange grape like fruits (usually one-seeded) that mature in September-October. Scaly trunk and often persistent fruit that eventually turn black provide winter interest.
Although toxic and inedible, the fruits (contain saponin) produce a soapy lather when mashed. Native Americans made soap from the fruit.
Light: Full sun, Part Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: southern U.S., northern Mexico