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Gypsophila repens - close-up (aka).jpg
Gypsophila repens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Gypsophila

about 150

Gypsophila /ɪpˈsɒfɪlə/[1][2] is a genus of flowering plants in the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae. They are native to Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.[3] Turkey has a particularly high diversity of Gypsophila taxa, with about 35 endemic species.[4] Some Gypsophila are introduced species in other regions.[3]

The genus name is from the Greek gypsos ("gypsum") and philios ("loving"), a reference to the gypsum-rich substrates on which some species grow.[3] Plants of the genus are known commonly as baby's-breath, aka babe's breath.[3][5] a name which also refers specifically to the well known ornamental species Gypsophila paniculata.


Gypsophila are annual and perennial herbs often growing from a thick taproot or a branching caudex, sometimes with rhizomes. The stems are usually erect and branching or sprawling, or in a few species prostrate along the ground. The leaves are variable in shape. The inflorescence is usually a cyme or a thyrse, branching intricately. Each small flower has a cup-like calyx of white-edged green sepals containing five petals in shades of white or pink. The fruit is a rounded or oval capsule opening at valves. It contains several brown or black seeds which are often shaped like a kidney or a snail shell.[3]


A few species are commercially cultivated for several uses, including floristry, herbal medicine, and food. The baby's-breath most commonly used in flower arrangements such as bouquets is the common gypsophila, G. paniculata.[6] G. elegans is also used as a cut flower.[7]

The genus is a source of saponins that can be used for many purposes, including the production of photographic film and hemolytic laboratory reagents. Their detergent qualities make them useful in soap and shampoo.[6]

G. rokejeka is used to make the dessert halva.[6] Species are also ingredients in liqueur, cheese, and ice cream, providing flavor, aroma, and crispness to foods.[8]

Several species are hyperaccumulators of boron, and may be planted to absorb the element from polluted soils.[8]


Some species are known as weeds, including the "aggressive ornamental" G. paniculata, which invades habitat and competes with native flora.[9]

Selected species[edit]

There are about 150 species in the genus.[3][10]

Stereo image
Right frame 
Gypsophila sp. seeds

Species include:


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Gypsophila at USDA PLANTS Database
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gypsophila. Flora of North America.
  4. ^ Korkmaz, M., et al. (2012). Habitat properties of some Gypsophila L. (Caryophyllaceae) taxa of Turkey. Biyoloji Bilimleri Araştırma Dergisi (BİBAD) 5(2), 111-25.
  5. ^ Gypsophila. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  6. ^ a b c Henry, M. Gypsophila paniculata L. (baby's breath): in vitro culture and the production of gypsogenin saponins. In: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants IV (pp. 187-206). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 1993.
  7. ^ Gypsophila elegans. Landscape Horticulture. American University of Beirut.
  8. ^ a b Korkmaz, M., et al. Economic importance and using purposes of Gypsophila L. and Ankyropetalum Fenzl (Caryophyllaceae) of Türkiye. In: 2nd International Symposium on Sustainable Development, June 8–9, 2010, Sarajevo.
  9. ^ Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata). Plant Health & Pest Management, Ministry of Agriculture, British Columbia.
  10. ^ Gypsophila. The Plant List.

External links[edit]