FAMILY SAPINDACEAE Some interesting relatives of the buckeyes are to be found in the soapberry family, which comprises over one hundred genera, chiefly tropical plants. The leaves are alternate, and the fruits are drupes or capsules. Five deserve mention here.
The Spanish Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa, Endl.) is a small tree with alternate ash-like leaves and profuse clusters of rose-coloured flowers. It grows on canon sides and along streams in Texas and New Mexico. Few trees surpass it in beauty when blooming. The fruit is shaped like an inverted top, deeply 3-lobed, and contains three shiny seeds smaller than buck eyes.
The Soapberry (Sapindus Saponaria, Linn.) has the dis tinction of bearing "sope berries like a musket ball that washeth as white as sope." So writes an early explorer of southern Florida. The berries produce a good lather in water. The Asiatic sort have long been used for washing silks and rare woollen fabrics, such as cashmere shawls. The stem of the ash-like leaf is winged with a narrow, leaf-like web throughout its length, as is that of our familiar smooth sumach of the roadside thickets.
The Wild China Tree (Sapindus marginatus, Willd.)—A
tree of medium size which grows from Louisiana to Kansas and southern Mexico, has leathery leaves with wingless stems, and yellow berries which have the same saponaceous principle. This tree is especially valuable for its wood, which is tough and hard, and divides into plates, or annual layers. These are separated, stripped, and woven into baskets to use in gathering the cotton crop.
The Ironwood, or Inkwood (Exotbea paniculata, Radlk.), grows on the southeast coast of Florida. It is a small tree whose hard red wood is used for piles and boats, because it seems to he immune from the attacks of the ship-worm. Its leaves ha v',; 2 to 4 oval leaflets. The minute flowers are in panicles, and the fruit is a juicy, i-seeded, purple berry.
The White Ironwood (Hypelate trifoliata, Schwartz.)— A rare species on the Umbrella Keys, and in Cuba and Jamaica, it is esteemed as timber and devoted to boat building. Its wood, though hard, is far from white. The leaves have three obovate leaflets; the minute flowers are succeeded by sweet, black berries, each enclosing a thick pit.