Cupania pseudorhus A.Rich.
Common Name: Foam Bark Tree
Cultivated fruiting tree in Brisbane, Australia
Photograph by: Tatters ?
Foam bark tree is an evergreen tree with an umbrella-shaped crown and ferny, weeping foliage. Usually a small tree up to 10 metres tall, though specimens up to 30 metres tall have been recorded[
The saponins in the bark have been used as soap and as a foaming agent[
The seed capsules are covered in fine, penetrating hairs that make handling them unpleasant[
All parts of the plant, but especially the bark, contain saponins46]. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[
Australia - New South Wales and Queensland.
Lowland, coastal rainforests, usually in better soils, and along the banks of creeks[
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Succeeds in fairly moist, subtropical to tropical lowland areas.
The saponins in the bark have been used as a foaming agent to put a 'head' on cordials[
All parts of the plant contain saponins and produce foam if agitated in water[
]. The saponins are most concentrated in the bark, and this has been used as a soap.
Seed - it has a limited viability and needs to be sown when ripe. However, it is easier to wait until the seed capsules have dried and opened to obtain the seed. Germination usually occurs within 2 weeks[
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