Soap-bark Tree, Quillai, Quillay, Soap bush
- Broadleaf evergreen tree or shrub (may form multiple trunks), to about 30 ft (10 m) high in cultivation, over 50 ft (15 m) in its native
habitat, half as wide, pendulous branches (less with age). Bark rough, dark, thick, contains saponins
which are lather-producing (soap) chemicals. Leaves simple, alternate, elliptic or ovate, 3-5 cm
long, leathery, base, apex obtuse or subacute, margin irregularly and shallowly toothed (dentate), upper
surface glossy green, glabrous (without hairs), petiole only 2 mm. Flowers white, 1.5 cm, 5-parted
(corymbs). Fruit 2.5 cm wide, brown, a capsule that open into a star shape.
- Sun to part shade, drought tolerant, well-drained soil. Can be grown as a hedge.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 8 Native to warm temperate central Chile
north to Peru.
- saponaria: contains saponins. The inner bark can be reduced to a powder and employed
as a substitute for soap, owing to the presence of a glucoside saponin. It is used commercially in
Chile in laundry soap and shampoo.
- At the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Quillaja saponaria started reseeding causing the Arboretum to stop
sales of this species.