Baby’s Breath blooms in abundance in Medicine Hat
Published Friday, May 16, 2014 3:40PM MDT Last Updated Friday, May 16, 2014 4:36PM MDT
Baby’s breath is often used to fill out bouquets and flower arrangements but the branched perennial is also a noxious weed and is taking over in some southern Alberta communities.
The plants are native to Europe and Asia and and infestations can often be found along roadsides and in ditches and open fields.
Baby’s Breath can invade farm and grazing land and once established can be almost impossible to eradicate.
One plant can produce over 13,000 seeds which are then dispersed by the strong southern Alberta winds.
In Medicine Hat, the ranchlands are overrun with Baby’s Breath and it is encroaching on federally endangered plants, like the Easter daisy and the illusive tiny Cryptantha.
“Last year they only found about a 100 of these plants, so its super rare. It likes the same habitat as Baby's Breath so Baby's Breath is just totally threathing tiny C,” said Sean Allen, environmentalist.
Allen is working to stop the spread of the ornamental herb and says the teams pulled over 30,000 weeds last year compared to just 7000 thousand this year.
Infestations are often found downwind from cemeteries because the seeds escape flower arrangements that are left on gravesites so some local florists have decided to ban the bud.
Florist, Barry Charlton says there are alternatives.
“We carry wax flowers, Limonium as a filler flower. The wax flower is very similar to Baby's Breath, it's a little white flower," said Charlton.
Characteristics of Baby’s Breath:
- Grows up to 2.5 feet (0.75 meters) in height
- Has a deep root system that helps it to survive in arid conditions
- Has branched clusters of many small flowers
- Flowers have five white petals and 10 stamens
- Leaves are opposite, narrow and covered with a dense bloom of hairs on both sides
- Stems are upright or ascending at the base and single to many in number
- Flowers form capsules that contain small black seeds, 0.06 to 0.08 inches (1.5 to 2.0 mm) long
For more information on Baby’s Breath and how to prevent and control it click HERE.
(With files from Jamie Mauracher)