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Pakistan | Family List | Caryophyllaceae

20. Gypsophila L., Sp. Pl. 406. 1753. Gen. Pl. ed. 5.191.1754; Amoen. Acad. 33:23.1756; Boiss., Fl. Or. 1:534.1867; Edgew. & Hook. f., in Hook. f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 1:216. 1874; Williams, J. Bot. 27:321-329.1889; Schischkin in Korn., Fl. URSS. 6:731.1936; Stroh. Beih. Bot. Centr. 59:455-477.1931; Barkoudah in Wentia 9:203. 1962; Barkoudah & Chater in Tutin et al., Fl. Eur. 1:181. 1964; Huber-Morath in Davis, Ft. Turk. 2:149.1967.


Annual, biennial or perennial herbs, often woody, glabrous or frequently with glandular hairs. Leaves usually linear to lanceolate. Flowers small, abundant, in dichasial cymes, panicles or heads. Bracts green or scarious. Bracteoles absent. Calyx campanulate or turbinate, 5-toothed, mostly with druses (an echinate col-lection of calcium oxalate crystals), nerves 5, with scarious intervals; commissural nerves absent. Petals 5. Coronal scales absent. Stamens 10. Styles 2. Carpophore absent. Capsule globose to oblong, dehiscing by 4 valves. Seeds usually tuberculate, with a prominent radicle, reniform or comma shaped. Hilum laterl.

A large genus with c. 125 temperate, Euroasiatic species; one species in New Zealand and Australia.

The delimitation of Saponaria and Gypsophila is by no means easy. The presence of a campanulate-turbinate calyx is a constant and diagnostic character, in our species. Therefore, I have preferred to retain Gypsophila bellidifolia (Saponaria barbata Barkudah) & Gypsophila alsinoides (Arenaria bungei Barkoudah) in this genus. Represented in Pakistan by 10 wild and 2 cultivated species, found in the western parts of the country.

Cultivated species

Gypsophila paniculata L., Sp. Pl, 407. 1753; Stewart, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 244. 1972.

Perennial, 40-100 cm tall, glabrous. Stems erect or ascending, branching from the base. Leaves 20-50 x 3-8 mm, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate. Inflorescence a lax panicle. Pedicels filiform. Calyx c. 2 mm, glabrous, campanulate. Petals white, about twice the length of calyx. Seeds tuberculate.

Syntype: Hb. Linn. 579.5 (LINN).

Distribution: E. & C. Europe, Central Asia, W. China, N. America.

Cultivated for ornament in Pakistan. Introduced and naturalised in several countries. English name: Baby’s Breath.

Gypsophila elegans M. Bieb., Fl. Thur.-Cauc. 1:319. 1808; Stewart, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 244. 1972.

Annual, 20-60 cm tall, glabrous. Stems erect or ascending, thick, branching.

Leaves 20-60 x 4-5 mm, oblanceolate, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate. Inflorescence a lax panicle. Pedicels slender. Calyx 3.5-4 mm, broadly campanulate, nerves green with scarious margins, veined purple. Twice as long as the calyx. Seeds tuberculate.

C-7 Rawalpindi Dist: cult. In Gordon College, April 1936, Sewa Ram s.n. (RAW); ibid., Mohinder Nath s.n. (RAW); Ibid., 1939, Kundan Lal 36 (RAW); D-8 Lahore, cult., March 1957, S.B. Akhtar s.n. (PPFI-B).

Distribution: Caucasus, C. Europe (introduced), Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

1 Inflorescence compact, flowers forming heads   (2)
+ Inflorescence lax. Flowers in paniculate cymes or solitary   (4)
2 (1) Plant caespitosa with decumbent to prostrate stems. Leaves 4-6 mm, apparently forming dense whorls at the nodes   8 Gypsophila sedifolia
+ Plant not caespitose with erect stems. Leaves 12-45 mm, not as above   (3)
3 (2) Basal leaves oblong to oblong-spathulate, cauline leaves linear-lanceolate. Bracts linear, lanceolate, not adpressed to calyx   9 Gypsophila cephalotes
+ Leaves few, linear, fasciculate. Bracts ovate, ciliate-adpressed to calyx   10 Gypsophila lignosa
4 (1) Flowers solitary   (5)
+ Flowers in paniculate cymes   (6)
5 (4) Stems densely brown pilose. Calyx 6-7 mm, pilose. Petal 8-12 mm, long. Robust annual   2 Gypsophila pilosa
+ Stems pubescent-glandular below, glabrous above. Calyx 3-4 mm, minutely pubescent. Petal c. 3.5 mm long. Perennial   1 Gypsophila bellidifolia
6 (4) Delicate annual, 3-10 cm, with slender to capillary stems   (7)
+ Perennials, compartively tall, with stems neither capillary nor slender   (9)
7 (6) Stems capillary, glabrous, yellow. Leaves linear. Calyx glabrous; calyx teeth ovate, without broad, scarious margins   Gypsophila muralis var. stepposa
+ Stems slender, but not capillary, glandular-pubescent. Leaves spathulate or linearobiong to lanceolate. Calyx triangular with broad scarious margins   (8)
8 (7) Stems and branches glandular-pubescent. Petals as long as calyx   3 Gypsophila floribunda
+ Stems and branches eglandular. Petals shorter than calyx   4 Gypsophila makranica
9 (6) Stems white-villous, decumbent to ascending. Leaves broadly, ovate to spathulate, with villous margins. Petals spathulate, entire, exceeding the calyx   6 Gypsophila cerastioides
+ Stems glabrous with divaricate branching. Leaves linear-lanceolate, glabrous. Petals as long as or slightly longer than the calyx, divided into linear lobes   7 Gypsophila alsinoides

  • List of lower taxa


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