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Common Name: Baby's Breath
Gypsophila paniculata is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.20 metres tall.
It has medicinal uses.
Although no mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus has a root that is rich in saponins[
]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm[
]. They are also broken down by heat so a long slow baking can destroy them. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[
Europe. An occasional garden escape in Britain.
Dry sandy and stony places, in steppe where it grows with large tufted species of Stipa grasses[
], north to latitude 57°n[
Requires a sunny position and a well-drained dryish soil[
]. Plants are not long-lived in wet or heavy soils[
]. A lime tolerant plant[
], it prefers a limey soil according to another report[
]. Plants are intolerant of winter damp[
] but tolerate drought once established[
A very ornamental plant[
], it is hardy to about -20c[
The root contains triterpenoid saponins and these have spermicidal activity[
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and, if growth is sufficient, plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant them out in late spring or early summer.
Division in spring or autumn. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Basal cuttings before the plant flowers. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.