Is the western soapberry the tree for you?

(sapindus drummondii)

Western Soapberry full tree

Flickr| David Elckhoff

Named because of the lather the fruit gives off when mixed with water, western soapberry is a North American native and an excellent shade or ornamental tree to adorn your landscape. If you’re looking to add a little more green to the yard and want something drought tolerant, then this tree may be the tree for you. Below are a few attributes that make the western soapberry stand out.

Environmental conditions

  • This tree grows well in a variety of soils with dryer climates in the South and Southwest (hardiness zones 6-9). It prefers full sun and partial shade, meaning a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day would suffice.
  • Tolerates wind, drought, compacted soil and infertile soil
  • Transplants easily and establishes with minimal irrigation

Physical traits

  • The western soapberry will grow two feet a year and reach 25-50 feet in height with an equal spread
  • Blooms May to June with loose panicles of yellowish-white flowers
  • Produces orange fruits that resemble cherries and lather when mixed with water. Fun fact: Native Americans used the berry-like drupes as a soap substitute.
  • The western soapberry is a favorite of butterflies in early summer

 

western soap berry

Flickr| David Elckhoff

If you’re looking for something unique to add to your landscape then the western soapberry may be a good choice.  It requires little care and offers great shade from the summer heat. Check out Inviting all butterflies! Create an oasis designed for them! If you’re looking to attract more butterflies to your garden.

Do you have a western soapberry? Share a picture below.

Inviting all butterflies! Create an oasis designed for them!

It is no coincidence that every time you see a butterfly, a smile stretches across your face. They are exquisite flutters of color that glide flower to flower-pollinating plants around them.  If you find yourself wanting to invite butterflies into your garden, keep reading to find out what trees and shrubs they are attracted to!

Butterflies feel welcome almost anywhere, but only if you know what they are looking for – sources of food, shelter and water. Trees and shrubs bear fruit, nuts and berries while also offering shelter and breeding places.

The best way to attract butterflies to your garden is to start with a variety of flowering and fruit trees and shrubs. We recommend choosing a mixture of both prolific bloomers and those that have a long bloom time. Butterflies attracted to the following recommendations include American lady, silvery blue, zebra swallowtail, Compton tortoiseshell, and northern pearly eye- some containing more specific species.

zebra swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail by Shenandoah National Park

sweetbay magIn spring, sweetbay magnolias produce a profusion of creamy white flowers that carry a light lemon scent. Working well as a patio tree, it flowers best in full sun exposure and yields clusters of red fruit. Sweetbay magnolias attract different types of butterflies such as the tiger and zebra swallowtail.

silvery blue
Silvery Blue by Brad Smith

 

eastern redbudMany butterflies visit the eastern redbud because it is one of the earliest trees to bloom in the spring. A few species that are drawn to it include silvery blue, zebra swallowtail and dreamy duskywing. Its nectar and pollen attract butterflies necessary for a small healthy orchard or a vegetable garden.

white

White Admiral by Brad Smith

pink dogwoodThe pink dogwood blooms in April and May and produces a glossy red fruit that ripen in the fall.  The blossoms attract butterflies such as the American snout, white admiral and banded hairstreak.

american lady

American Lady by John Flannery

‘Blue Chip is one of the many butterfly bushes but has some unique characteristics – namely its noninvasive behavior and compact size. Sweetly scented flowers continuously bloom from midsummer through fall-attracting all types of butterflies like the American Lady. This butterfly bush is perfect for landscaping along a pathway, too.bluechip

Welcome these lovely friends into your garden by offering what they need. Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find more variety of trees and shrubs, perfect for your butterfly oasis. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.