Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Gypsophila paniculata
Preferred Common Name
- baby’s breath
Other Scientific Names
- Arrostia paniculata (L.) Raf.
- Gypsophila effusa Tausch
- Gypsophila hungarica Borbás
- Gypsophila manginii auct.
- Gypsophila parviflora Moench
- Gypsophila tatarica Gueldenst.
- Lychnis procera Ledeb.
- Saponaria paniculata (L.) H.Neumayer
- Silene paniculata E.H.L.Krause
International Common Names
- English: baby's-breath; bachelor's button; maiden's breath; perfoliate baby's breath; tall baby's-breath; tall gypsophila
- French: brouillard; gypsophile en panicule; oeillet d'amour
- Russian: belyj myl'nyj koren; kacim metel'caty; perekatipole
- Chinese: yuan zhui shi tou hua
Local Common Names
- Germany: rispiges Gipskraut; Scheierkraut; Schleierkraut
- Japan: kogome-nadeshiko
- Netherlands: Bruidssluier
- Sweden: brudslöja
- GYPPA (Gypsophila paniculata)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
G. paniculata is a perennial herb native to central and eastern Europe and central and western Asia, but is widely cultivated and distributed as an ornamental and cut plant. It has become invasive in North America, where it threatens native grasslands and open habitats (BCMA, 2015). It is especially problematic in the dune complexes around the upper Great Lakes, where it threatens rare species restricted to dune habitats (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014). It is listed as a noxious weed in Washington and California, USA, and Manitoba, Canada (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Caryophyllaceae
- Genus: Gypsophila
- Species: Gypsophila paniculata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
G. paniculata is a perennial herb in the family Caryophyllaceae. The genus Gypsophila contains about 150 species, with a centre of diversity in Turkey (Korkmaz and Ozcelik, 2011; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014). Gypsophila means ‘gypsum loving’, noting its habitat preference for calcareous soils. Paniculata refers to the inflorescence of this species (Charters, 2015). The common name ‘baby’s breath’ comes from the cloud-like appearance of the plant when in flower.
Lychnis procera, Saponaria paniculata and Silene paniculata are unresolved names thought to be synonymous with G. paniculata (The Plant List, 2013). Several subtaxa have been proposed for G. paniculata: G. paniculata var. adenopoda Borbás ex Hallier; G. paniculata subsp. bicolor Freyn Sint.; G. paniculata var. effusa Fenzl; G. paniculata var. hirta Gruner; G paniculata var. latifolia Hohen.; G.paniculata var. paniculata L. (The Plant List, 2013) and G. paniculata var. araratica Hub.-Mor.(Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). However, most of the proposed subtaxa are based on differences in pubescence and are not likely to be recognized (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014).
DescriptionTop of page
From DiTomaso et. al. (2013); Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2014):
G. paniculata is perennial herb to 40-100 cm tall, with stout roots that grow up to 4 m deep. The stems are erect (sprawling) and many branched near the crown; glabrous or occasionally glandular-puberulent or scabrous near base; swollen at the nodes. The leaves are cauline and glaucous; linear-lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, to 2-9 cm × 2-10 mm; the apex acute to acuminate. The calyx 1-3 mm, lobes glabrous with the apex rounded to obtuse. The petals are white or rarely light purplish pink; spatulate, ca. 3 × 1 mm; apex truncate or obtuse. The fruit is a globose capsule that dehisces at maturity. The small globose seeds are brown-red to black and coarsely tuberculate, 1-2 mm long, disc- to bean-shaped.
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
G. paniculata is native to central and eastern Europe and accross central Asia as far as western China. It has also been widely introduced as an ornamental plant and florists' crop. In North America, where it was introduced as an ornamental in the 1800s, and is now a locally abundant and widespread weed in grasslands, pastures and sand dunes across primarily northern states in the USA and in southern Canada (Darwent, 1975; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; BCMA, 2015).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present|
|Russia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Native||Ciscaucasia, Dagestan|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present, Only in captivity/cultivation|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
It was introduced to North America as an ornamental in the late 1800s (BCMA, 2015).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Because of its popularity as an ornamental plant and florist crop, the risk of introduction and re-introduction remains high.
HabitatTop of page
In its native range along the steppe of central and eastern Europe and central Asia, G. paniculata occurs in dry, sandy, rocky areas, usually on calcareous soils. It prefers alkaline to neutral soils with full sun. However, across its range it can be observed in a variety of habitats including flood plains, grassland fields, roadsides, beaches and other open, disturbed sites (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; BCMA, 2015).
In a field study of mixed grass prairie in midwestern USA, snow added to experimental plots increased G. paniculata density and biomass compared to reference plots, probably due to increased recruitment. These results may have some importance when examining invasive species interaction with climate change (Blumenthal et al., 2008).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Industrial / intensive livestock production systems||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat|
|Littoral||Coastal dunes||Principal habitat|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The chromosome number of 2n= 34 is most commonly reported, although there are also isloated reports of 2n = 26 and 2n = 68 (IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2014).
Physiology and Phenology
G. paniculata seedlings emerge in early spring and develop one shoot the first year, after which plants grow deep, thick roots. Plants begin to flower in early summer to autumn of their third year. Fruits mature in mid-summer to autumn (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; BCMA, 2015).
G. paniculata reproduces by seed, with each plant producing an average of 13,700 seeds. The seeds fall near the parent plants or are dispersed by wind. G. paniculata seeds have little to no dormancy (BCMA, 2015).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Most seeds fall near the parent plant, but in some areas seeds may be dispersed by wind (BCMA, 2015). At the end of its growing season, entire G. paniculata plants can break free from their roots and disperse seeds as tumbleweed (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014).
Accidental Introduction/Intentional Introduction
G. paniculata is a very popular ornamental and re-introduction from escaped cultivars is a continuing threat.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Botanical gardens and zoos||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
|Escape from confinement or garden escape||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
|Garden waste disposal||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
|Landscape improvement||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
|Ornamental purposes||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
|Seed trade||Yes||Yes||Darwent (1975)|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
In North America, G. paniculata is listed as a noxious weed in Washington (Class C), California (B list), and Manitoba (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014). In pastures, it will compete with forage species and reduce the crude protein content of hay (Darwent, 1975). G. paniculata can also be an allergen-causing respiratory and cutaneous symptoms, especially among florists that work with the species indoors (Vidal and Polo, 1998).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
G. paniculata can escape cultivation and establish dense populations in pastures, rangelands, dunes and other open, well-drained habitats, where it can outcompete native plant species and form monocultures. It often establishes in disturbed areas such as road sides and vacant lots, where it can spread to other more sensitive areas. The dunes habitat around the North American Great Lakes is particularly vulnerable. In addition to its competitive effects, the deep roots of G. paniculata stabilize dune habitats and alter entire community composition. As a result, several threatened species endemic to dune habitats are at risk from G. paniculata invasion.
In a study of how G. paniculata impacts pollinator services in Lake Michigan dunes habitat, the abundance of pollinators was five times higher in invaded sites when compared to uninvaded sites. However, removal of G. paniculata increased pollinator visits to the federally threatened Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri). Removal also increased native plant species richness, which was positively correlated with pollinator visitation to C. pitcheri. This suggests an indirect effect of G. paniculata removal on pollinators. G. paniculata appears to act as magnet species, attracting more pollinators to the vicinity; however, it can negatively affect reproductive output of C. pitcheri by decreasing pollinator visits and increasing heterospecific pollen transfer (Baskett et al., 2011).
In a comparison of areas invaded by G. paniculata, managed areas and reference areas in Michigan dunes, invaded plots had almost double the total numbers of arthropods and 20% more families than reference and managed plots. This was associated with an increase in sap-feeding herbivores, increased pollinators and predators abundance. There were also a difference in arthropod community structure between reference and invaded plots, but no strong effects of management were detected. The implications of this study for the native plant community are unknown, but the results imply that additional studies on higher trophic levels are needed to evaluate management efforts (Emery and Doran, 2013).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Charadrius melodus||NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened); National list(s)||Canada; USA||Competition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||The Nature Conservancy (2013)|
|Cirsium pitcheri (Pitcher's thistle)||NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened species||Canada; USA||Competition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||The Nature Conservancy (2013)|
|Trimerotropis huroniana||National list(s)||USA||Competition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||The Nature Conservancy (2013)|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of hydrology
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts human health
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Causes allergic responses
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
G. paniculata has value as an ornamental and is a major export for several countries (USDA-ARS, 2014).
Several members of the Caryophyllaceae produce and store saponin glycosides in their roots (such as Saponaria sp.). Gypsophila species, including G. paniculata, can produce up to 30 different saponins (Gevrenova et al., 2010). Saponin is so named from soap making, but it has a variety of other uses. Extract from Gypsophila roots have been used as a fire extinguisher, gold polish and fabric softener. Extracts have also been used to prepare foods such as herbal cheese and ice cream, and for making liqueur (Korkmaz and Ozcelik 2011). Saponins extracts from G. paniculata are also an efficient biological control for nematodes that transmit grapevine fanleaf virus (Pensec et al., 2013).
There are several reported medicinal uses for saponin extracts. Crude extracts from Gypsophila species are cytotoxic to tumor-inducing macrophage cell lines and may be useful in fighting cancer (Gevrenova et al., 2014). G. paniculata also has value as a herbal medicine purgative and cough remedy (Korkmaz and Ozcelik. 2011; USDA-ARS, 2014).
Uses ListTop of page
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
- Cut flower
- Potted plant
- Propagation material
- Seed trade
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Remote sensing has shown some success in detecting invasive populations of this species. In one study conducted in Idaho, USA, hyperspectral imagery and the spectral angle mapper (SAM) algorithm were able to identify 97% of known G. paniculata infestations (Lass et al., 2005).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Plants can be hand pulled, but the deep root systems of established plants limit this method. Plants will regrow after mowing unless cut below the crown and rhizome (DiTomaso et al., 2013). Removal should be performed with consideration to prevalent winds in order to prevent wind dispersal of the seeds into areas already managed (The Nature Conservancy, 2013).
In a study evaluating the effects of G. paniculata removal in Michigan dunes habitat, plant community composition responded well to removal and closely resembled reference plant communities. There was no effect on total plant diversity or other non-native plant cover. Soil properties were also unaffected by invasion and removal. These results suggest that removal will restore native plant communities with little risk of invasion from other exotic species. However, the sensitive nature of dune habitats merits continual monitoring (Emery et al. 2013).
Some growth regulators such as 2,4-D, aminopyralid + metsulfuron and dicamba have shown success in suppressing the growth of G. paniculata at high application rates. Glyphosate is also effective when applied to spring growth (DiTomaso et al., 2013); however, it will also kill non-target species and is most effective in monocultures. Chlorsulfuron, imazapic and metsulfuron have also been used to control G. paniculata (DiTomaso et al., 2013).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Much of the existing literature on G. paniculta focuses on improving the production and quality of flowers for the horticultural trade. Ecological studies on invasive populations of G. paniculata are sparse, leaving several aspects of its biology in need of further study. There is no known biological control for G. paniculata, but additional studies comparing invasive populations to populations in the native range may reveal a specific predator or similar control. Management protocols and the effects of large scale removal also need further study.
ReferencesTop of page
Baskett CA; Emery SM; Rudgers JA, 2011. Pollinator visits to threatened species are restored following invasive plant removal. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 172(3):411-422. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658182
BCMA, 2015. Aggressive ornamentals database: baby's breath. British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/babysbreath.htm
CHAH (Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria), 2015. Australia's virtual herbarium. Australia: Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.ala.org.au
Charters ML, 2015. California Plant Names: Latin and Greek meanings and derivations. Calflora. http://www.calflora.net/
Chromosome Reports IPCN, 2014. Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN). Tropicos website. St.Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Project/IPCN
DiTomaso JM; Kyser GB; Oneto SR; Wilson RG; Orloff SB; Anderson LW; Wright SD; Roncoroni JA; Miller TL; Prather TS; Ransom C; Beck KG; Duncan C; Wilson KA; Mann JJ, 2013. Weed control in natural areas in the western United States. Weed Research and Information Center. California, USA: University of California, 544 pp.
Emery SM; Doran PJ, 2013. Presence and management of the invasive plant Gypsophila paniculata (baby's breath) on sand dunes alters arthropod abundance and community structure. Biological Conservation, 161:174-181. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320713000827
Emery SM; Doran PJ; Legge JT; Kleitch M; Howard S, 2013. Aboveground and belowground impacts following removal of the invasive species baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata) on lake Michigan sand dunes. Restoration Ecology, 21(4):506-514. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00915.x/full
Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=1
GBIF, 2014. GBIF data portal. Copenhagen, Denmark: Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). http://data.gbif.org
Gevrenova R; Joubert O; Mandova T; Zaiou M; Chapleur Y; Henry M, 2014. Cytotoxic effects of four Caryophyllaceae species extracts on macrophage cell lines. Pharmaceutical Biology, 52(7):919-925. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13880209.2013.868492
Korkmaz M; Özçelik H, 2011. Economic importance of Gypsophila L., Ankyropetalum Fenzl and Saponaria L. (Caryophyllaceae) taxa of Turkey. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10(47):9533-9541. http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/pdf2011/24Aug/Korkmaz%20%20and%20Ozcelik.pdf
Lass LW; Prather TS; Glenn NF; Weber KT; Mundt JT; Pettingill J, 2005. A review of remote sensing of invasive weeds and example of the early detection of spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) and babysbreath (Gypsophila paniculata) with a hyperspectral sensor. Weed Science [Site-specific weed management symposium, held at the 2004 Weed Science Society of America annual conference, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 9 to 12 February 2004.], 53(2):242-251.
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/
Pensec F; Marmonier A; Marchal A; Gersch S; Nassr N; Chong J; Henry M; Demangeat G; Bertsch C, 2013. Gypsophila paniculata root saponins as an environmentally safe treatment against two nematodes, natural vectors of grapevine fanleaf degeneration. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 19(3):439-445. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1755-0238
The Nature Conservancy, 2013. Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes Restoration Project. 2013 Field Season Report. http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/michigan/lake-michigan-dune-report-2013.pdf
The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org
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Choi I Y, Kim B S, Cho S E, Park J H, Shin H D, 2014. First report of powdery mildew caused by Erysiphe buhrii on Gypsophila paniculata in Korea. Plant Disease. 98 (7), 1013. DOI:10.1094/PDIS-03-14-0237-PDN
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Ripka G, 2016. Three new Aceria species (Acari: Prostigmata: Eriophyoidea) from Hungary on Limonium gmelinii ssp. hungaricum (Plumbaginaceae), Petrorhagia prolifera (Caryophyllaceae) and Gypsophila paniculata (Caryophyllaceae). Acta Phytopathologica et Entomologica Hungarica. 51 (1), 103-122. DOI:10.1556/038.51.2016.1.10
Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435. http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14435
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ContributorsTop of page
30/03/15 Original text by:
Jeffery Masters, University of Louisville, USA
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