Baby's breath growing along the water on the Portage Trail
Image credit: Sigrid Resh
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
Grows 15-39 inches tall
Leaves are entire and lance-like with pointed tips. (1-4 inches long by 0.2-0.4 in
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
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:
Cut and bag any mature seed or flower heads to avoid accidental dispersal.
When possible, cut the taproot below the point where the stem and the root meet, around
4 inches deep, and bag.
Dispose of by burning.
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
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).