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Baby's Breath Flowers
  • Bushy perennial up to 1 meter (3 feet) tall

  • Introduced from Eurasia as an ornamental

  • Used extensively in floral arrangements

Baby's Breath Infestation

Baby's breath

(Gypsophila paniculata)

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

Impact
Baby's breath is an aggressive plant with the potential to cause significant damage to grassland and open forest areas.  It is an unpalatable plant that crowds out beneficial native species reducing forage for wildlife and livestock. 

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.

Flower
Five petaled flowers are 1.5 to 3 mm wide and found in heavily branched clusters at the ends of the stems. They are numerous, small, white  or occasionally pink. A fused, cup-like group of sepals below the flower petals has 5 teeth.

Leaves & 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 tint. Prominent white mid-veins are generally 1.8 to 10cm, but size decreases toward top.  Very few leaves are present when flowers have bloomed.

IMGP1020 babys breath bstewart_edited.jpg

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

Reproduction & Dispersal
By seeds only. Most seeds fall near the parent plant, but mature plant often break off at ground level and tumbled by wind which disperses seeds much further.

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

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

Interesting Facts
Can out-compete healthy perennial grasses.  The milky smell of flowers is an allergen for some people.

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