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Chinese Plant Names | Family List | Caryophyllaceae | Saponaria

1. Saponaria officinalis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 408. 1753.

肥皂草 fei zao cao

Description from Flora of China

Lychnis officinalis (Linnaeus) Scopoli; Silene saponaria Fries ex Willkomm & Lange.

Herbs perennial, 30--70 cm tall. Axial root stout, fleshy, rhizome thin, many branched. Stem simple or branched above, usually glabrous. Leaves ovate or ovate-lanceolate, 5--10 × 2--4 cm, 3- or 5-veined, base attenuate, slightly connate, semiclasping, apex acute. Inflorescence a thyrse, cymules 3--7-flowered; bracts lanceolate, margin and midvein sparsely hirtellous, apex long acuminate. Pedicel 3--8 mm, sparsely and shortly pubes-cent. Flowers large. Calyx green, sometimes dark purple, tubular, 1.8--2 cm × 2.5--3.5 mm, obscurely 20-veined; calyx teeth broadly ovate, apex acute. Petal limb white or pink, cuneate-obovate, 1--1.5 cm, apex emarginate; coronal scales linear. Gynophore ca. 1 mm. Stamens and styles exserted. Capsule cylindric-ovoid, ca. 1.5 cm. Seeds black-brown, globose-reniform, slightly compressed, 1.8--2 mm, tuberculate. Fl. Jun--Sep. 2n = 30.

This species is used medicinally and as a soap.

Cultivated as an ornamental in parks, usually escaping. NE China [native to W Asia and Europe].


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