Gypsophila elegans

From The Plant Encyclopedia

Baby's Breath

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Gypsophila paniculata - Baby's Breath

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Gypsophila elegans

Kingdom Plantae
Order Caryophyllales
Family Caryophyllaceae
Genus Gypsophila
Varieties in this species
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Aden Earth Zone

4 - 20


  • Cultivation: Invastive, Naturalizing, Low-Maintenance, For-Gardeners
  • Light: Sun
  • Soil: Rich
  • pH: 7, 8, 9
  • Moisture: Medium, Dry, Well-Drained


  • Form: Herbaceous
  • Habit: Perennial
  • Flower: Small
  • Fruit/Seed: Small
  • Foliage: Leaves
  • Uses: Ornamental, Craft, Industrial


Gypsophila elegans (Annual Baby's-breath, Showy Baby's-breath  ) is an Ornamental plant native to Asia and Europe.

Gypsophila (play /dʒɪpˈsɒfɪlə/)[1]—commonly known as baby's-breath in the United States and Canada, "soap wort"[citation needed] in the United Kingdom, elsewhere Gypsophila[2]—is a genus of about 100 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to Europe, Asia and north Africa. Many species are found on calcium-rich soils, including gypsum, hence the name of the genus. Some species are also sometimes called "baby's breath" or simply, "Gyp", among the floral industry. Its botanical name means "lover of chalk", which is accurate in describing the type of soil in which this plant grows.

They are herbaceous annual and perennial plants growing to 5–120 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, linear to narrow triangular, often falcate (sickle-shaped), 1–7 cm long and 2–8 mm broad. The flowers are produced in large inflorescences, which may be either dense or open and lax; each flower is small, 3–10 mm diameter, with five white or pink petals.

Selected species

  • Gypsophila acutifolia - Sharp-leaved Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila altissima
    * Gypsophila aretioides
    * Gypsophila arrostii
    * Gypsophila bicolor
    * Gypsophila bungeana - Bunge's Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila capituliflora
    * Gypsophila cephalotes
    * Gypsophila cerastioides
    * Gypsophila davurica
    * Gypsophila desertorum
    * Gypsophila elegans
    * Gypsophila fastigiata - Fastigiate Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila huashanensis
    * Gypsophila licentiana
    * Gypsophila muralis - Annual Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila nana - Dwarf Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila oldhamiana
    * Gypsophila pacifica
    * Gypsophila paniculata - Common Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila patrinii
    * Gypsophila perfoliata - Perfoliate Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila petraea
    * Gypsophila pilosa - Turkish Baby's Breath
    * Gypsophila rokejeka - Soap root[3]
    * Gypsophila repens - Alpine Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila scorzonerifolia - Glandular Gypsophila
    * Gypsophila sericea
    * Gypsophila spinosa
    * Gypsophila tenuifolia
    * Gypsophila tschiliensis

Cultivation and uses

Gypsophilas are often grown as ornamental plants in gardens; they are grown both as garden plants and also valuable as a cut flower in floristry to add as a filler to flower bouquets. The most commonly encountered in gardens are G. paniculata (a perennial species), G. elegans, and G. muralis (both annual species). They are easily propagated from seed, by cuttings, or by root division before growth starts in the spring. Starting as a tiny seed, the annuals and perennials germinate in ten to fifteen days, and can grow rapidly up to 50 cm in height. While they prefer full sun, along with rich, light soil, deficiencies in poor soil constitution can be overcome by adding a general purpose fertilizer, as long as it is well drained.

In the United States, it is common for young girls, particularly children attending weddings, to have their hair decorated with Baby's Breath.

Gypsophila paniculata has become an invasive species in parts of North America.

Gypsophila rokejeka is used to provide saponins in the production of halva[3]

Gypsophila species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including three case-bearers of the genus Coleophora which feed on G. fastigiata: C. kyffhusana, C. niveistrigella (both of which feed exclusively on the plant) and C. vicinella.

The root of the Gypsophila repens is used to make the whip cream topping of the Turkish dessert kerebic. Boiling the root over a period of hours produces white bubbles which are collected, mixed with sugar, and mixed until it thickens to a cream.


1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
2. ^ Gypsophila at USDA PLANTS Database
3. ^ a b Ethnological Museum of Thrace