Baby's breath growing along the water on the Portage Trail

Baby's breath growing along the water on the Portage Trail

Image credit: Sigrid Resh

Baby's Breath

Gypsophila paniculata


Baby’s breath is a terrestrial herbaceous invasive that colonizes sunny, disturbed, sandy sites, which makes it problematic near Michigan’s waterways. It is part of the Caryophyllaceae family and is a perennial that’s native to Europe. Identifying features include:

  • Grows 15-39 inches tall
  • Leaves are entire and lance-like with pointed tips. (1-4 inches long by 0.2-0.4 in wide)
  • Stems are smooth and glaucous, sometimes rough around the base
  • Very small, 5-petaled flowers can be white or reddish. The abundant flowers are located at branched tips and bloom from July through August
  • Baby’s breath holds its many seeds in rounded capsule-like fruits
Baby's breath identifying characteristics from MISIN

Baby's breath identifying features

Image Credit: Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN)

For more information, visit MISIN's website

KISMA Management Practices

Each baby’s breath plant can produce up to 14,000 seeds every year. It’s important to be careful with seed heads. It also has the ability to regrow from its taproot if not cut far enough down. Management practices include:

  1. Cut and bag any mature seed or flower heads to avoid accidental dispersal.
  2. When possible, cut the taproot below the point where the stem and the root meet, around 4 inches deep, and bag.
  3. Dispose of by burning.
  4. For sites with mature plants, another treatment will likely be needed later in the season or in subsequent years. 

Examples of Areas Managed for Baby's Breath around KISMA

Baby's breath management along the Portage Trail

Baby's breath being managed on the Portage Trail, September 25, 2022

Image credit: Sigrid Resh

Native Alternatives

Because management can result in large disturbed places, planting native plants is essential. In sites along roadways, some great options are goldenrod (Solidago spp.), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), and native asters (Asteraceae family).