32. Saponaria Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 408. 1753. Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 191. 1754.
Soapwort, saponaire [from Latin saponis, soap, and -aria, pertaining to, alluding to sap]
John W. Thieret, Richard K. Rabeler
Herbs, [annual, biennial, or] perennial. Rhizomes stout or slender. Stems erect to spreading, simple or branched, terete. Leaves connate proximally, petiolate or sessile; blade 3(-5)-veined, spatulate to elliptic or ovate, apex acute or rounded. Inflorescences terminal, dense to open, lax cymes; bracts paired, foliaceous; involucel bracteoles absent. Pedicels erect. Flowers: sepals connate proximally into tube, greenish, reddish, or purple, 7-25 mm, tube 15-25-veined, oblong-cylindric, terete, commissures between sepals absent; lobes green, reddish, or purple, 3-5-veined, triangular-attenuate, shorter than tube, margins white, scarious, apex acute or acuminate; petals 5 (doubled in some cultivars), pink to white, clawed, auricles absent, with 2 coronal scales, blade apex entire or emarginate; nectaries at filament bases; stamens 10, adnate with petals to carpophore; filaments briefly connate proximally; staminodes absent (present in some cultivars); ovary 1-locular; styles 2(-3), filiform, 12-15 mm, glabrous proximally; stigmas 2(-3), linear along adaxial surface of styles, papillate (30×). Capsules cylindric to ovoid, opening by 4(-6) ascending or recurving teeth; carpophore present. Seeds 15-75, dark brown, reniform, laterally compressed, papillose, marginal wing absent, appendage absent; embryo peripheral, curved. x = 7.
Species ca. 40 (2 in the flora): introduced; Europe, c, w Asia, Africa (Mediterranean region); S. officinalis widely naturalized elsewhere.
Saponaria pumilio (Linnaeus) Fenzl ex A. Braun [= Silene pumilio (Linnaeus) Wulfen], a species of the Alps and the Carpathians, was collected once from a ledge on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in 1964; the collector, S. K. Harris (1965), suggested that it may have been an intentional planting. A cespitose plant, it differs from the two species below also in its one-flowered, rather than several-flowered, stems.
Shults, V. A. 1989. Rod Myl'nyanka (Saponaria L. s.l.) vo Flore SSSR. Riga.