“What’s That?” Wednesday: Saponins

Saponin Text

We often come across soapy looking water while out hiking along streams. The kids love to play with the bubbles that accumulate in the slower moving spots along the shore, popping them and scooping them up to throw at each other. These bubbles look and feel like soap but are actually a naturally occurring reaction of saponins in rough, churning waters.

Read on to find out a bit more about saponins as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, research binder, or lap book.

Saponin 2-1 Saponin 3-1

Saponin 6-1

Some Interesting Information About Saponins:

– Saponins come from natural plant sources.
– The bubbles and foam saponins create look and feel like soap, often leaving the impression that soap has gotten into the water somehow.
– The foam is actually created by the churning of rough water, such as occurs at waterfalls.
– The name comes from the soapwort plant.
– The root of the soapwort has been used as soap for centuries.
– Saponins are found in the leaves, stems, bulbs, roots, fruit and blossoms of plants.
– Saponins have been used as a poison, added to streams, to catch fish (see Fishing with Poisons for more information).

Click here to download the saponins nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

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