Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberry family)
Genus: Sapindus
Botanical name: Sapindus trifoliatus
Sanskrit: Hrishtah, Phenaka, Phenil, Rishtah, Rishtak, Rita, Sarishta, Urdhvashodhanah
Hindi: Phenil, Risht, Rishtak
English: South India Soapnut, Three-leaf soapberry, Trijugate-leaved sop-nut
Malayalam: Urunchimaram, Cavakkaay, Pasakkottamaram, Uruvanchi
South India Soapnut is a large tree, growing up to 25 m tall. Leaves are compound, 15-30 cm long. Leaflets are nearly stalk less, 2-3 pairs, 8-18 cm long, 5-7.5 cm broad, elliptic-lance shaped, smooth, pointed tipped, base slightly oblique, terminal pair longest. Flowers are greenish-white, in terminal, slightly velvety panicles. Flower stalks are 3 mm long, velvety. Sepals are 5, slightly fused at the base, 4-5 mm long, ovate-oblong, velvety. Petals are 5, free, 5-6 mm long, lance-shaped to ovate, clawed, bristly. Disc is 5-lobed. Stamens are 8, free, filaments 2-3 mm long. Ovary is 3-locular, 3-lobed, ovoid, about 3 mm long, velvety, with 1 ovule in each locule. Fruit is 2-3 lobed, 1.3-2 cm long, velvety when young, hard and smooth when mature. Each cell has a 6-9 mm black, round seed, which is what is popular as a traditional washing soap.
South India Soapnut have historically been used in folk remedies as a mucolytic agent, emetic, contraceptive,and for treatment of excessive salivation, epilepsy, and to treat chlorosis. While they do exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, the effectiveness of some of these folk-remedy treatments have not been subject to extensive scientific scrutiny. However, modern scientific medical research has investigated the use of soapnuts in treating migraines.
Sapindus trifoliatus
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