Saponaria officinalis (Bouncing Bet)

Plant Info
Also known as: Soapwort
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, ditches, fields, edges of streams, woodland edges
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] A small group of flowers cluster at the top of the stem and at the end of branches arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are about 1 inch across, 5 notched petals that spread out, then back as the flower ages. The color ranges from pink to white. 10 stamens and a long, 2-parted style protrude from the center.

[photo of atypical hairy calyx] Behind the flower is a slender, tubular, light green to reddish calyx about 1 inch long with 5 short triangular teeth at the tip, straight across at the base, and usually smooth, sometimes minutely hairy.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are generally oval or egg-shaped with blunt or pointed tips, up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, with 3 prominent parallel veins and little or no stalk. The leaf edges are smooth and often somewhat wavy. Attachment is opposite, sometimes with smaller leaves growing from the leaf axils. Stems are erect, smooth, may be branched in the upper plant and single or multiple from the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] The calyx persists and holds a capsule of numerous


Bouncing Bet is likely under-reported in Minnesota. The flowers resemble those of a Phlox, but the leaves with 3 prominent, parallel veins easily distinguish it.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka, Hubbard and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Liza - Becker MN, Snuffys Landing
on: 2013-07-14 17:17:48

Snuffys Landing Becker MN

Posted by: Gaelyn - RIse COUntry near Dundas, MN
on: 2015-07-28 20:11:20

A very full, fluffy triple-petaled version of this wildflower in a rich pale pink blooms everywhere in the rural ditches near Dundas, MN. It is lightly fragrant during the day but at night has a rich, haunting smell like very sweet grape juice. I have found this planted in front of pre-1900's old graves and wonder if this beautiful extra double form might have been gradually selected by gardeners. Perhaps it escaped from gardens and cemeteries near by.

Posted by: Ian - St. Paul
on: 2015-08-27 13:23:24

This grows weedy throughout the twin cities metro area. Happy to have finally figured out the species, as it has been stumping me for some time! I was checking the Silene and Phlox genus for answers.

Posted by: kristopher - Duluth
on: 2016-07-21 10:34:44

Noticed this blooming on July 20th in Duluth MN in Chester Park and elsewhere. The variant I found displays several six-petaled flowers amongst a greater number of five-petaled flowers.

Posted by: Nancy C - Eastern Becker County
on: 2017-07-12 14:37:27

Found along township road, July 2017.

Posted by: Erica - Staples
on: 2017-07-20 13:27:17

Bouncing Bet is now in many places around Staples, MN - saw large areas covered with blooming plants when visiting a rare native plant community in a nearby WMA north of Staples (July 18, 2017). Seemed to be many other invasive plants mixed in with flowering desirable native plants along the roadsides.

Posted by: Sue K - Lake County
on: 2017-07-28 13:41:16

First time it has shown itself here on our property. Twenty plants with pale pink blooms. Growing along roadside ditch amongst the raspberries and vetches.

Posted by: Ellen H - PEQUOT LAKES
on: 2017-08-03 14:43:37

Saw Bouncing Bet yesterday growing along the ditch down my street. First time I have noticed it. At first glance I thought it was a type of campion plant, but the flowers looked different, so I took photos to ID at home. August 2, 2017.

Posted by: Eric Smith - Woodbury - Washington County
on: 2018-07-10 17:52:56

A cluster of this just showed up along the edge of our backyard prairie garden.

Posted by: Hagen Gamradt - Todd County
on: 2018-07-10 23:18:44

I noticed these plants in a horse pasture a mile southwest of Long Prairie in early July this year.

Posted by: Pat B - Detroit Lakes
on: 2018-08-18 08:27:43

This is growing in a couple of flower beds at a golf course. I am trying to eliminate it. The plant is sending rhizomes every where! It comes up through hostas and lilies. It is a very invasive plant.

Posted by: Andria barta - East Bethel
on: 2019-07-10 21:56:12

Have a large one growing in my front yard.

Posted by: Kate R - minneapolis
on: 2019-07-14 08:54:40

This is easily misidentified as a campion! Spreads easily and quickly in twin cities climate. Dominates the area once one plant establishes.

Posted by: Tim W - St. Paul - Mississippi West Regional Park - Anoka County
on: 2019-07-16 00:47:53

On the left hand side of the road going down to the boat launch. Took me three hours to figure out it has both single and double flowers. This one was a double.

Posted by: Julie Bourgeois - Cass County, MN
on: 2019-07-22 19:42:24

July 20, 2019...Blooming in and around the town of Bena, MN. Very pretty double flowering, pale pink in color.

Posted by: Karen Kaehler - Cass CR 10 north of US Hwy 2
on: 2019-07-22 20:28:06

Large numbers of these blooming 22-Jul-2019 in the mowed shoulder along Cass CR 10 (Scenic Byway) to Pennington, as well as along Smurler Road SE.

Posted by: Maria Allen-Alband - Staples, MN
on: 2019-07-29 22:23:36

Its been growing for the last 3 yrs in my flower beds around the house. Never planted them. Let them show themselves before deciding if weed or keeper. Decided to was a keeper. More have popped up since.

Posted by: gary - Carlton County
on: 2019-07-31 09:42:40

On the Munger Trail near Aitkinson. A few plants with single white flowers in full sun.

Posted by: Sue Schiess - Eastern Hubbard County (near Leech Lake)
on: 2019-09-03 17:23:31

Very pretty light pink flowers where the hill meets the beach. (Read: very sandy soil and lots of sun.) Starting to spread like crazy, tho.

Posted by: Paulette Blair - Canby
on: 2020-06-11 13:45:48

I first saw this at our abandoned family's homestead in northern Nebraska, and my mom said she remembered playing among these flowers when she was a little girl. Besides being like white phlox, they smell sweet & I was happy to find them growing "volunteer" (a.k.a. wild) around my house in Minnesota. If you ever get them started you will have them for as long as you want.

Posted by: Kris Holsen - Trout Brook Nature Preserve SAINT PAUL
on: 2020-07-13 13:08:04

ON the north end by the parking lot

Posted by: Brian O'Brien - Magelssen Bluff Park, Rushford, Minnesota
on: 2021-07-11 00:06:38

I saw a good bit of this plant in flower along the road cut at Magelssen Bluff Park in Rushford on July 6, 2021. An additional comment that I can make is that the road cut is also a spectacular site for native species.

Posted by: Susan Cassidy - Ham Lake
on: 2021-07-17 14:19:36

The previous resident planted a small garden with soap wort.

Posted by: Peter - Afton
on: 2021-07-26 21:57:36

There's a little clump of this growing along a creek near my house. It smells great, and the pollinators love it. For now, it isn't spreading very aggressively, and seems quite beneficial to the insects in the area.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-28 18:50:33

Peter, your patch may not be spreading aggressively now, but it easily could in the near future. It may appear beneficial to insects but that could be due to a lack of native plants. There really is nothing about bouncing bet that justifies keeping it around. Native plants would be more beneficial in the long run.

Posted by: David Bellert - WRENSHALL
on: 2021-08-04 18:25:24

Found growing along the Crow Creek where the Superior Hiking Trail crosses. A few specimens downstream of Lake CR 3.

Posted by: Kristen - St Paul
on: 2021-08-20 18:45:16

This popped up in my container I am growing mint in. Pretty flowers. I am really focusing on developing native pollinator plants but the bees, hummingbirds like these too. It seems like this has been a rough summer for pollinators so I'm hesitant to take any food away right now.

Posted by: Lorraine - St Cloud
on: 2021-09-24 08:58:57

I have this growing in a small bed at the south side of my tiny old farm house. It has been there since before I bought the house...I tried digging up the little raised bed a few years ago and that seemed to produce a bumper crop of the droopy but, kind of pretty double petaled variety...because it was an unusual mystery plant to me I have been wondering about it...guess I could make some soap with it! I was interested to find that it is added to tahini as an emulsifier...had not noticed a scent...but, will check that out next...

Posted by: dan carlson - Should be considered in Chisago County
on: 2022-05-29 16:52:27

I've been a prairie care volunteer at Wild River State Park since 1998 and have seen this plant on slopes close to the river north of the boat launch. It has little competition there as erosive sand offers poor root establishment, but is not well-established from what I've seen elsewhere there.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-05-29 17:54:23

Dan, the best way to update distribution maps is to submit a specimen to the Bell Herbarium, then it becomes part of the official record.

Posted by: Kate Gipp - Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Lake MN
on: 2022-07-12 11:31:49

I found Soapwort in the park not far from County Road H2. It is also present in the roadside ditch.

Posted by: Amy Hoagland - Sibley State Park
on: 2022-07-20 22:01:23

Spotted quite a bit of this at Sibley State Park at one of the small canoe/kayak lakes.

Posted by: Christa Drake - Lake Bemidji State Park, Beltrami County
on: 2022-07-27 14:45:23

We have some patches of soapwort along the Bog Walk Trail at Lake Bemidji State Park.

Posted by: Terry O'Brien - Itasca County, West end of Mac Rd off MN Hwy 6
on: 2022-07-29 21:21:23

Flowers are pink, drying to pale lavender.

Posted by: Loretta Mogan - Olmsted County, Root River Park
on: 2022-08-16 09:17:54

Saw this along the Root River Park river path on Sunday, August 14, 2022.

Posted by: Ann Marie Maciej - Annandale
on: 2023-04-25 10:34:25

In ditches. White. I collected seed and broadcast on my little prairie. It is taking over the natives. Wondering how to get rid of it.

Posted by: Donna Turner - Anoka county.
on: 2023-06-30 10:42:44

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. Growing along Aqua Lane which is the road that goes to Chomonix golf course. They were near where the bike path crosses the road.

Posted by: Carole - Baker Park - Horse Trail Parking area near Alpine Farm
on: 2023-07-11 12:35:08

Three small clumps of this at the wood edge on the south side of the parking area. I've been looking for wild phlox, and thought this was phlox from a distance. Phlox was really common in 2017 and 2018, and now in 2023 not so much. Too bad this pretty flower is a weedy non-native.

Posted by: Brooklyn - Bruce Vento Nature Sancuary
on: 2023-07-20 09:11:23

Along the trails there are a ton blooming white-pinkish flowers. Some of the leaves were a bit wavy on the edges, but definitely had the 3 veins.

Posted by: Emily Ryan - North Minneapolis
on: 2023-10-07 13:34:25

Found this in my yard, mistook it for phlox until I looked at it more deeply. does the double flower thing happen often? That seriously threw off my search for ID, and all of mine do that.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-10-07 17:50:03

Emily, a number of species have the occasional double flowers but it's not common within a species, though I believe it's an inherited trait/mutation.

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