Baby's breath comes from the family Caryophyllaceae, which contains about 100 other types of flowers. Baby's breath occurs in bunches with white or light-purplish-pink petals about 1 to 4 mm long. The flower has erect or sprawling stems, and roots that may push as far as 4m into the soil. Baby's breath is perennial, flowering between summer and fall.
Gypsophila paniculata is the scientific name for baby's breath, which is also known as bachelor's button, perennial or tall baby's breath and maiden's breath. The small bunches of flowers are often found in garden and florist crops. While baby's breath is often recommended as a wedding flower, a small amount of the world's population appears to be allergic.
About Baby's Breath
Baby's Breath Locations
The Caryophyllaceae family is native to north Africa, Asia, and Europe. Baby's breath is frequently located in wild, open areas, including hayfields, pastures and roadsides, as well as sandy areas like beaches. Many species grow on soil containing calcium, including gypsum. Baby's breath is most often found in specific areas of central and western North America, and occasionally in the eastern part of the country.
Allergies to Baby's Breath
Allergies to double-flower baby's breath have not been reported, but allergies to single-flower baby's breath have. According a 1990 study in the "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" and another 1998 study published in the journal "Allergy," florists who handle baby's breath repeatedly can suffer from allergic symptoms. Although rare, these include allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjuctivitis, nasal polyps, dermatitis and contact urticaria (hives). Prick skin tests confirmed that the allergies were specifically related to baby's breath.
Noxious Weed Status
Baby's breath is listed as a noxious weed in California, Washington and Manitoba. This means that these places regard it as an invasive species dangerous to humans, livestock, agricultural crops, horticultural crops, natural habitats or ecosystems, or a combination. In addition, baby's breath is so prevalent in certain areas around the Great Lakes that it is considered threatening to rare animal species who live there.
- PubMed.gov; Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; Allergens Involved in Occupational Asthma Caused by Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata); Schroeckenstein DC,et al.; August 1990
- UK PubMed Central; Allergy; Occupational allergy caused by Dianthus caryophillus, Gypsophila paniculata, and Lilium longiflorum; Vidal C;
- Colorado Noxious Weed Advisory Committee: Plant Assessment Form
- eFloras.org: Gypsophila paniculata
- FlowerCraft.com: Flower Allergies
- FWD.gov; Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Federal Noxious Weed Act
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