Baby’s Breath: Pretty and evil

I’m talking about the plant (Gypsophila paniculata), not actual babies, BTW.
I was recently reminded that a lot of folks don’t know that Baby’s Breath is a nasty, invasive plant in the US. Oddly enough, it was because I bought soap.  They make this statement on their package:

“our hypo-allergenic bar soap …comes in 100% post consumer recycled packaging imbedded [sic] with Baby’s Breath seeds. Plant the carton in soil, water and watch your plants grow.”

Post consumer packaging–Yay!


But the bit about planting Baby’s Breath–I think I can channel Kirk here for a minute: “NOOOOOOO!”

Please, do not do that.

This is what happens when people think about being green, but don’t think things all the way through.

Baby’s Breath is a plant originally from Siberia and Eastern Europe. It is changing Michigan’s dune ecosystem in destructive ways. Because it has a very deep taproot (up to 12 feet!!), it  stabilizes sand dunes and prevents them from the natural ebb and flow as seasons and storms pass.  This taproot also lets the plants outcompete native plants, many of which have disappeared from our dunes.

It is also invasive on grazing lands in the west, where it again outcompetes and takes over for native grasses.  You can see a map of its spread in North America here.

So: pretty and EVIL.

A wonderful resource on finding good (i.e, well-behaved native plants) for your garden is at PlantWise. They even have an “invasive translator” that provides alternative suggestions to invasive non-native garden plants. Check it out!

More info about the Great Lakes Barrens Ecosystem.

Oh, and if you’d like to contact Pure & Natural Soaps and tell them to STOP distributing invasive weed seed…they are apparently owned by Dial. Their contact phone number is listed on the package as 1-877-711-8188.