Baby’s-breath

Gypsophila scorzonerifolia

Common Name: Baby’s-breath

  • Woody, vertical stems that grow 20-39 inches tall, though the plants often flop over in the sand.
  • Tiny white or pink flowers can be seen throughout the summer and early fall.
  • Native to Russia, this invasive species has become a serious pest in the Great Lakes region.
  • Still used in floral arrangements, often with roses.

Native or Invasive: Invasive perennial

Characteristics: Bushy plants with stems that arise from a stubby, vertical, woody stem just underground. The lower portion of the stem is glabrous, or not hairy, and has a grayish-white to blue-green waxy coating. The upper portion of the stem gets hairy near the top. The plants are known for their flowers, which consist of five small, white to rose-colored petals. In the Great Lakes region, it can be found along the northern shores and also sporadically along the southern shores and inland along roadsides and ditches. It is native to Russia, in the lower Volga region. It arrived earlier in Michigan and Indiana than most places and was thought to have been introduced either by escaping cultivation or by being accidentally included with other plants or soils.

Habitat: Grows along calcareous (alkaline and limestone) shores. Crowds out native plants.

Fun Fact: There are four species of Gypsophila found throughout the region. All of them are considered invasive. They are very difficult to get rid of, as small parts of the huge taproot can form new shoots — even after most of the root has been destroyed.

Ethnobotanical Uses: None noted.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.