I-Spy – Bouncing Betty!

Yesterday, on my daily walk around Oxbow country, I came across a pretty little flower which I’d never noticed before.  There were a dozen or more plants in full flower, just off a mowed trail, so no need to leave the trails.

I’m not telling you where, you have to go and try to find them yourself.   I-SPY is a little game to get folks out of the house. Maybe you could set the kids on the task, but remember to tell them to watch for poison ivy etc. (I didn’t see any near these plants, and all the trails have been recently mowed).

Here’s a great link to this plant whose name is Bouncing Bet (ty) or Soapwort.  It could become an alien invasive species, but no one seems too bothered by it yet. It originated in Europe, and was used as a soap.

By Karelj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19972439

Wikipedia states – A lathery liquid that has the ability to dissolve fats or grease can be procured by boiling the leaves or roots in water. Take a large handful of leaves, bruise and chop them and boil for 30 minutes in 1 pint/600ml of water; strain off the liquid and use this as you would washing-up liquid.

I checked on EBay and it seems there are plenty of places selling the seeds for this plant. It can be invasive, so be careful where you plant it. Apparently, butterflies and bees like it, but as it’s not a member of the milkweed family, I doubt The Monarch butterfly will use it for egg laying, perhaps only stopping for some nectar.

In India, the rhizome is used as a galactagogue In The Middle East they use it to make the sweet Halvah,  and breweries use it in beer production to give the beer a good frothy head. Wiki says it could be mildly toxic, but if it’s in some beers it can’t be all that bad.

I hope you find the plant. Watch out for more I-spy subjects on this blog.

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

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