Gypsophila muralis (Low Baby's Breath)

Plant Info
Also known as: Wall Baby's Breath, Annual Gypsophila
Genus:Gypsophila
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry, sandy or gravelly soil; lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks, waste areas, roadsides, railroads
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are single at the tips of branching stems and arising on slender stalks from upper leaf axils. Flowers are ¼ to 3/8 inch across with 5 light pink to lavender petals with darker streaks, fused at the base into a slender tube. Inside the tube are 10 white stamens and a split style.

[photo of calyx] The calyx cupping the flower is about 1/8 inch long with 5 triangular lobes about half as long as the petals. Lobes are green with white edging that extends nearly to the base of the calyx, giving a green and white striped look. Flower stalks are slender and up to ¾ inch long. All parts are hairless. A robust plant has hundreds of flowers.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of upper leaves] Leaves are opposite, lance-linear, pointed at the tip, stalkless at the base, toothless, hairless, the lower leaves up to 1 inch long, less than 1/8 inch wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. Stems are slender, heavily branched throughout with forking branches, sparsely and minutely hairy near the base and hairless above.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an oval-elliptic capsule about 1/8 inch long and longer than the calyx. It splits into 4 lobes when mature and contains numerous tiny, blackish, snail-shell-shaped seeds covered in rows of minute bumps.

Notes:

Low Baby's Breath is a native of Europe introduced in the garden trade and occasionally escapes cultivation, spreading into lawns, roadsides, cemeteries and other open, disturbed areas. An interesting account is noted in Flora of North America, where population expansions in Wisconsin have been blamed on winter activities of flooding sites for skating rinks, and where snow and ice have been piled up. One has to wonder where all that seed originated...and if it will likewise start spreading in Minnesota. Low Baby's Breath is recognized by its numerous tiny, delicate 5-petaled flowers, tubular calyx with a green and white striped appearance, opposite linear leaves, forking branches, and snail-shell-shaped seeds.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Hubbard County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Hubbard and Lake counties.

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