Common Name
Bouncing bet, Soapweed
Botanic Name
Saponaria officinalis L.
Plant Family
Escaped from cultivation, common in waste areas, roadsides, pastures, woodlands.
Common throughout North America except in desert areas.
Animals Affected
Cattle, sheep, horses
Toxic Principle
Saponins (soap-like compounds) are the primary toxins present in Saponaria especially in the seeds. If eaten in sufficient quantity, the saponins may cause acute hepatotoxicity and death. The seeds which are especially toxic may contaminate cereal crops.
Erect herbs, with jointed, hairless stems, opposite lanceolate leaves 2-5 cm in length. The leaves attach directly to the stems or have short petioles. The white or pink petaled flowers are produced in terminal clusters. Many seeds produced in a capsule. Tends to form expanding colonies through its rhizomatous root system.
Consumption of the seeds may cause anorexia, decreased rumen activity, excessive salivation, colic and diarrhea as a result of gastroenteritis may occur depending on the amount ingested. Reddening and hemorrhage in the intestines may be seen at necropsy.
Gastrointestinal protectants and activated charcoal may helpful in severe cases.
Hepatic System
The saponins may cause acute liver toxicity and death.
Special Notes
Infrequently a problem to livestock. Bouncing bet's significance is that it is locally invasive weed. Other plants in this family with similar toxic properties include corn cockle (Agrostemma githago), inkweed or alfombrilla (Drymaria species), and cow cockle/soapwort (Vaccaria hispanica) Reference: Kingsbury JM. Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice Hall Englewood Cliffs New Jersey. 1964. 245-250. 2. Williams MC, Fierro LC. Seasonal concentration and toxicity of saponins in Alfombrilla. J Range Management 33: 157-158, 1980. 3. Mathews FP. The toxicity of Drymaria pachyphylla for cattle, sheep and goats. J Vet Med Assoc 83:255-260, 1933. 4. Smith RA, Miller RE, Lang DE. Presumptive intoxication of cattle by corn cockle Agrostemma githago. Vet Hum Toxicol 39: 250, 1997.
Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) flowers
Corn cockle, corn campion - Agrostemma githago
Corn cockle flower.