Monday, June 28, 2010

Soapbark Tree--Quillaja saponaria

The Soapbark Tree attracted my attention because it sort of looked like a live oak with flowers. Oak trees do not have flowers in the traditional sense. But this is not an oak, it is actually in the rose family, and those flowers look a bit like plum or apple flowers. There are lots of flowers, but small and colored white and green, so the beauty is rather subtle. So, is the tree soapy? Sort of. The inner bark has saponins that foam up and can be used for soap. The foam is also used in foods, drugs, personal care products, and to fight fires. I guess the soapy foam reduces the temperature of the fuel and coats it, excluding the oxygen and putting out the fire. Pretty cool, huh?

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