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

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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.

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