Herb: Baby's Breath


Latin name: Gypsophila paniculata


Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family, Starwort Family)



Medicinal use of Baby's Breath:

Purgative. The root contains triterpenoid saponins and these have spermicidal activity.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy and stony places, in steppe where it grows with large tufted species of Stipa grasses, north to latitude 57°n.

Propagation of Baby's Breath:

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. Root cuttings.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry sandy and stony places, in steppe where it grows with large tufted species of Stipa grasses, north to latitude 57°n.

Known hazards of Gypsophila paniculata:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.