Sapindus trifoliatus Linn

Sapindus trifoliatus Linn.


Botanical name:  Sapindus trifoliatus Linn.Untitled-119

Synonym:            Sapindus emarginatus Vahl.

Family:                  Sapindaceae

Kingdom:               Plantae

Order:                     Sapindales

Genus:                    Sapindus

Sindhi name:          Reetha

Species:                   S. trifoliatus

Local name:            Reetha

English name:         Soap-nut tree

Part used:               Leaves and fruits


Sapindus trifoliatus a handsome, medium sized, and deciduous tree or shrub.1 Leaves are alternate, paripinnate, and exstipulate. Leaflets are in 5-10 pairs, opposite, alternate, lanceolate, and acuminate entires. Flowers are greenish-white, subsessile, and numerous. Fruit is velvety when young while turns hard and smooth onmaturing. Fruits are globose, one-seeded, solitary, yellowish, pericarp black, and fleshy.2


S. trifoliatusisnative to China, Japan, and South Indian states.It is commonly cultivated in the villages of South India and West Bengal.1, 3It is also found in KPK and Punjab of Pakistan.2

 Ethnomedicinal Uses in Skin Diseases:


Shell of S. trifoliatus is crushed and mixed with water, which is then applied on the scalp to treat dandruffin District Tando Allahyar (Sindh).

Eczema and Skin Rashes

Reetha foam is applied on eczema and skin rashes once daily for complete curein District Tando Allahyar (Sindh).


Many parts of the S. trifoliatus contain phenolic acids, such as proto catechuic acid, cis -p- coumaric acid, p-hydrobenzoic acid, and cinnamic acid. Pericarp of the S. trifoliatus contains triterpenoid saponins A and C, emarginatoside-B, and C.9,10 Soapnut berries also contain carrageenan, histamine, serotonin, zymosan, type II cyanolipids, fatty acid, oleic acid, arachidic acid, 11-iecosenoic acid, cis-vaccenic acid, and 13-eicosenoic acid.11

Chemical Structures: 

Sapindus trifoliatus

Medicinal Uses and Pharmacology/Scientific studies:

S. trifoliatus is a useful plant.1 It has been used infolk remediesas a mucolytic agent,4 emetic,5 and as contraceptive.6 It cures tridosha. Its fruit is expectorant and used in salivation, chlorosis, and epilepsy.2 Fruit of soap nut berries are astringent, emetic, and anthelmintic.3 Root of Sapindus trifoliatus Linn. is used to treat gout, rheumatism, and paralysis.3It is a popular ingredient in ayurvedic shampoos and cleansers.7 It is used in ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczemapsoriasis, and removing freckles. Plant has have gentle insecticidal properties and are traditionally used for removing lice from the scalp.8

Fruit extract of Sapindus trifoliatus Linn. possessed potent antifertility and antiandrogenic activities. It also possessed tonic and astringent properties.9