Gypsophila L.

Gypsophila is a genus of ca. 150 species, mainly distributed in Eurasia (by far most diverse in Asia). One species, Gypsophila muralis L., is a very rare native in Belgium (Lambinon & Verloove 2012). In recent times it probably more often occurs as an alien, for instance as a pavement weed in cities (see also Clement 2000, van der Meijden 2005). Several species of Gypsophila are cultivated as ornamentals (mainly as cut flowers or for rock gardens). Walters (1989) and Jäger & al. (2008) provide an up-to-date overview for Europe.

Gypsophila is here still accepted in its traditional sense. While the majority of the Gypsophila species form a clade, Gypsophila in its entirety appears to be non-monophyletic. Recent molecular data demonstrated that Vaccaria, a small genus of one to four species that was thought to be closely related to Saponaria (Bittrich 1993, Madhani & al. 2018), was found nested within Gypsophila, and a small clade of Saponaria is sister to the Gypsophila/Vaccaria clade (Greenberg & Donoghue 2011).

1       Perennial with +/- woody stock and non-flowering shoots === 2

         Annual, without non-flowering shoots === 4

2       Stem prostrate to decumbent === Gypsophila repens

         Stem erect === 3

3       Leaf base clasping. Calyx and pedicels glandular pubescent. Petals usually pinkish, 4-6 mm long === G. scorzonerifolia

         Leaf base not clasping. Calyx and pedicels glabrous. Petals usually white, 3-4 mm long === G. paniculata

4       Leaves linear, at most 2 mm wide. Petals ca. twice as long as calyx (native) === G. muralis

         Leaves lanceolate, at least 3 mm wide. Petals ca. 3-4x as long as calyx === 5

5       Plant glabrous. Leaves 3-10(-15) mm wide === G. elegans

         Plant glandular or pubescent (at least in part), never completely glabrous. Leaves usually wider === 6

6       Plant glandular hairy in the middle part of the stem. Leaves 10-25 mm wide. Calyx 4-7 mm === G. pilosa

         Plant viscid between the upper internodes. Leaves 1-15 mm wide. Calyx 3-4 mm === G. viscosa


Barkoudah Y.I. (1962) A revision of Gypsophila, Bolanthus, Ankyropetalum and Phryna. Wentia 9: 1-203.

Barkoudah Y.I. & Chater A.O. (rev. Akeroyd J.R.) (1993) Gypsophila. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea (2nd ed.), vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 219-222.

Bittrich V. (1993) Caryophyllaceae. In: Kubitzki K. et al. (eds.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, vol. 2. Berlin, etc.: 206-236.

Clement E.J. (2000) An update on Caryophyllaceae in Alien Plants. BSBI News 85 : 46-47.

Greenberg A.K. & Donoghue M.J. (2011) Molecular systematics and character evolution in Caryophyllaceae. Taxon 60(6): 1637-1652. [available online at:]

Jäger E.J., Ebel F., Hanelt P. & Müller G. (eds.) (2008) Rothmaler Band 5. Exkursionsflora von Deutschland. Krautige Zier- und Nutzpflanzen. Springer Verlag, Berlin: 880 p.

Kurtto A. (2001) Caryophyllaceae. In: Jonsell B. (ed.), Flora Nordica, vol. 2. The Bergius Foundation, Stockholm: 83-216.

Lambinon J. (1995) Notes taxonomiques, nomenclaturales et chorologiques relatives à la quatrième édition de la « Nouvelle Flore » de la Belgique et des régions voisines. 3. Données nouvelles sur des plantes adventices ou subspontanées en Belgique. Dumortiera 60: 1-36.

Lambinon J. & Verloove F. (avec coll. Delvosalle L., Toussaint B., Geerinck D., Hoste I., Van Rossum F., Cornier B., Schumacker R., Vanderpoorten A. & Vannerom H.) (2012) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Sixième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXXIX + 1195 p.

Lawrence G.H.M. (1953) The cultivated species of Gypsophila. Baileya 1: 16-18.

Madhani H., Rabeler R., Pirani A., Oxelman B., Heubl G. & Zarre S. (2018) Untangling phylogenetic patterns and taxonomic confusion in tribe Caryophylleae (Caryophyllaceae) with special focus on generic boundaries. Taxon 67(1): 83-112.

McNeill J. (1973) Gypsophila and Stellaria: an unexpected problem in generic delimitation. Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 32: 389-395.

Özçelik H, Özgökçe F. (1996) Taxonomic contributions to genus Gypsophila L. (Caryophyllaceae) from East Anatolia (Turkey). In: Öztürk M., Seçmen Ö. & Görk G. (eds.), Plant life in southwest and central Asia: vol.1. Izmir, Turkiye: Ege University Press: 195-209.

Pringle J.S. (2005) Gypsophila. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.), Flora of North America, vol. 5. Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford: 153-156.

Rauschert S. (1977) Die in der DDR eingebürgerten ausdauernden Gypsophila-Arten. Mitteilungen zur floristischen Kartierung 3(2): 14-33.

Somlyay L. (2009) Alien Gypsophila taxa in the flora of Hungary. Studia Bot. Hung. 40: 173-180.

Tsarenko O.M. (1997) Peculiarities of geographic distribution of the species of Gypsophila L. (Caryophyllaceae) in the flora of Ukraine (in Russian). Ukr. Bot. Zhurn. 54(6): 545-550.

Tsarenko O.M. (1998) A critical taxonomic revision of species of the genus Gypsophila L. (Caryophyllaceae Juss.) in Ukraine (in Russian). Ukr. Bot. Zhurn. 55(6): 634-639.

Van der Meijden R. (2005) Heukels’ Flora van Nederland (23e druk). Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen: 685 p.

Walters S.M. (1989) Gypsophila. In: Walters S.M. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 183-184.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith