Family: Sapindaceae Genus:Sapindus Species:S. mukorossi Common name: Ritha Origin: China
Description: The leaves are alternate, pinnate, with 14-30 leaflets, the terminal leaflet often absent. The flowers form in large panicles, each flower small, creamy white. The fruit, called a soap nut, is a small leathery, yellow ripening blackish, containing one to three seeds.
Soapnuts used as a detergent; also utilized for polishing jewellery and for washing and bleaching cardamoms. Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent which is used to clean clothes. Soap nuts have become popular as an environmentally friendly alternative to manufactured, chemical detergents . A few nuts can be placed in a cotton drawstring bag in with a washload and reused several times. Soap nuts are safe for washing silk, woollens and other delicate fabrics. Saponin finds application as a textile auxillary and also as an emulsifier in insecticides.
Fruits emetic and expectorant, used in excessive salivation, epilepsy, and chlorosis. Soap nuts, especially are used medically as an expectorant, emetic, contraceptive, and for treatment of excessive salivation, epilepsy, chlorosis, and migraines. Studies show that saponin from soap nuts inhibits tumor cell growth. Soap nuts are among the list of herbs and minerals in Ayurveda. They are a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic shampoos and cleansers. Soap nuts have gentle insecticidal properties and are traditionally used for removing lice from the scalp. Soap nuts are antimicrobial and are beneficial for septic systems and greywater. Soap nuts are used in the remediation of contaminated soil. They act as fish poison; powdered seeds considered insecticidal. Fruit contains saponins which can be extracted by boiling the powdered fruits.
Kernels contain a fixed oil which can be used for soap manufacture, and the exhausted cake as a filler and fertilizer.