Baby's breath

(Gypsophila paniculata)

Erect, bushy perennial up to 1 meter (3 feet) tall. Introduced from Eurasia as an ornamental historically and used extensively in floral arrangements.

Quick Identification:

• Small white, sweet-scented flowers
• Flower tops look like wispy clouds
• Bluish-green stems and branches; overall bushy
appearance
• Opposite linear leaves with a prominent white mid-vein.

Flowers:

Interesting Facts:

Can out-compete healthy perennial grasses.  Smell of flowers is an allergen for some people.

Management:

Severing the crown from the root by cultivation
or hand-cutting below the soil surface usually kills baby’s breath. Regrowth is rare if the complete crown is removed.  Selective herbicides are effective.

Reproduction and Dispersal:

Numerous, small, white (occasionally pink) flowers at stem’s end—heavily branched clusters. Five petaled flowers, 1.5 to 3 mm wide. A fused, cuplike group of sepals below the flower petals has 5 teeth.

Leaves and Stems:

Many-branched, slender stems are swollen at the nodes. Leaves are liner, opposite, hairless, and covered with a powdery white film, which produces a bluish look. Prominent white mid-veins are generally 1.8 to 10cm, but size decreases toward top.  Very few leaves are present when flowers have bloomed.

By seeds only. Most seeds fall near the parent plant, but mature plant often break off at ground level and
wind tumble, dispersing seeds much further.

Habitat Preference:

Disturbed areas, grasslands, pastures, roadsides. Prefers sandy and slightly alkaline soils.

Impacts:

It is an aggressive plant with the potential to cause significant degradation to grassland and open forest areas.  It is an unpalatable plant that crowds out beneficial native species reducing forage for wildlife and cattle. 

Seeds:

The fruit is a small, egg-shaped capsule with four compartments, each containing 2 to 5 black, kidney-shaped seeds. Can produce over 13,000 seeds per plant.

Roots:

Up to 3.6 meters deep, thick, woody tap root has sufficient reserves to survive two years of adverse growing conditions.

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