Bouncing Bet

On a rocky beach

In a field
Bouncing Bet
Saponaria officinalis
Other names: common soapwort, crow soap, wild sweet William, soapweed, Latherwort, Lady’s-wash Bowl, Old Maid’s-pink, Fuller’s Herb, London Pride
Family: Caryophyllaceae (Carnation Family)
Range: Across the US.
Native: Introduced
Native Habitat: Saponaria officinalis ’s native range extends throughout Europe, and in Asia till western Siberia. It grows in cool places at low or moderate elevations under hedgerows and along the shoulders of roadways.
Bloom Time: May to September
Saponaria comes from the Latin for soap – the root of this plant contains a substance that lathers when exposed to water.   This soap was traditionally used to clean fine textiles.  
Saponin (the soap making substance) is also highly toxic, though the plant has been used for medicinal purposes (hence the officinalis in the name).    The leaves were also used to create a good head on beer in Medieval times.
From Plant Answers: The name ‘Bouncing Bet’ is said to have originated in England where barmaids, often called “Bets”, cleaned ale bottles by filling them with water and a sprig of this plant. When the shaking was begun by these buxom beauties and the Bets got to bouncing, the term ‘Bouncing Bet’ was born.
Locations in Photos:
Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Hamilton House, South Berwick, ME
Mackworth Island State Park, Falmouth, ME

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