Soapwort or “Bouncing Betty”

As promised here’s the first of many of the plants you can usually
find at HerbFest.

Bouncing Betty

In our country’s early formative years the West was being claimed
by the “Easterners” and the trail from East to West Coast could take
many a month and sometimes years to complete.

The winter months were especially harsh as one approached the
mountainous areas so most groups would settle in and make a permanent
camp to spend the winter or actually couple of years.  This break
became a time to plant crops, resupply and get ready for the next
leg of the journey.

One of the customs was to leave behind something useful for the
next wagon train of pioneers coming after you.  You might call it a
useful welcoming gift.

Well one of the early pioneers started a trend and her name was
Betty.  She knew the ladies had to find a way to clean the clothes
etc. so she would take some cuttings from her Soapwort plant and
plant several soapworts for the next group coming after her.

Soapwort was used as a laundry powder/cleaner in pioneer days.  It
actually creates a cleansing soap and when the ladies were washing
the clothes they would go break a branch of soapwort to use to clean
the clothing.

Everywhere Betty camped she left an abundance of new soapwort
plants.  Over time the plant became known as the “Bouncing Betty” plant
in her honor for planting everywhere she camped before bouncing to a
new location.

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Reader Comments

Wow!! Thanks Bob. Never knew saffron was obtained from the crocus.

I have to tell you a story about last Sunday. The Western Reserve Herb Club was having an outside tea party in the historical village. Tables of yummies and teas were set out in front of the buildings. Everyone was dressed up–hats and gloves required. It was a grand site. I was looking around and spied an outhouse. So I went to the herb club leader and related the information about the lamb’s ear and she loved it!!! Said she was going to plant some around the outhouse and lead to the walkway next spring.
So that story is really making the rounds and everyone is getting inspired to plant more!!


Written By Herbanite on May 15th, 2009 @ 7:05 pm