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An Assessment of Exotic Plant Species of Rocky Mountain National Park

Gypsophilia paniculata L.
Babysbreath (Caryophyl laceae)


Current level of impact
Known locations in RMNP: Only found at a few locations, if it occurs at all in RMNP.
Assessment: A few scattered populations. When added together, all populations would cover an estimated area less than 5 hectares.

Distribution
Origin: Europe, an ornamental which has escaped cultivation.
Geographic distribution: Widely distributed in the western U.S.
Ecological distribution: Pastures and rangelands, ponderosa pine communities. A weed problem in sandy, sub-marginal farmlands, roadside drainage ditches, and various ruderal habitats. Capable of withstanding variations in temperature and moisture.
Soils: Grows in both fine textured and coarse textured soils. Generally most aggressive on coarse textured soils such as sandy loams to loamy sand soils.

Reproduction
Perennial, reproduces by seeds. Does not reproduce vegetatively. Flowering occurs from June to August. Forms an extensive root system with large resource reserves which allow it to easily overwinter.
Seed production: 13,700 seeds/plant.
Seed dispersal: Wind is thought to be the most important mode of seed dispersal. Most seed capsules drop off near the parent plant, although some seeds may be carried distances of 1 km.
Seed longevity: Seeds generally exhibit little dormancy.
Germination: Maximum germination occurs at temperatures ranging from 10-28 C. Reduced germination was observed for temperatures above 28 C and lower than 10 C.

Competition
In Canada, G. paniculata is most aggressive in areas of low rainfall. Has been observed to invade and compete with other plants in a number of habitats. Dense stands will sometimes form on protected slopes and small ravines where there is an adequate supply of moisture and accumulation of seeds.
Level of impact: Once established, forms dense stands that are difficult to control.

Control
Chemical: Limited research indicates that G. paniculata is susceptible to dicamba (2.24 kg/ha or more) and picloram (at 1.12 kg/ha or more).
Biological: In Canada, heavy grazing has suppressed growth of mature plants and prevented the establishment of seedlings. However, light to moderate grazing had little effects on growth. The vigor of G. paniculata was not reduced by mowing or clipping.
Mechanical: Annual cultivation at a depth which severed the caudex from the root was very effective in destroying G. paniculata plants.

References

Darwent, A.L. 1975. The Biology of Canadian Weeds. 14. Gypsophilia paniculata L. 
    Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 55:1049-1058.

Darwent, A.L. and R.T. Coupland. 1966. Life history of Gypsophilia paniculata. 
    Weeds 14:313-318.

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