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Fastigiate Gypsophila

Gypsophila fastigiata

  • Family: Pink Family – Caryophyllaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Tufted.
  • Height: 10–30 cm (4–12 in.). Stem limp–ascending, inflorescence branches with glandular hairs.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white, approx. 0.5–1 cm (0.2–0.4 in.) broad; petals 5, entire. Corona lacking. Calyx campanulate, 5-lobed, white-striped, with glandular hairs, without epicalyx. Stamens usually 10. Gynoecium syncarpous, with 2 styles. Inflorescence quite dense, abundantly flowered cyme. Subtending bracts membranous.
  • Leaves: Opposite, stalkless. Blade linear, with entire margins, 1-veined, glabrous, bluish green.
  • Fruit: 4-valved capsule same length as calyx.
  • Habitat: Ridged slope, river banks, sandy moors, beside paths, calciferous rocks.
  • Flowering time: July–August.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in all of Finland, except the Åland Islands.

Fastigiate gypsophila is a central and eastern European species that favours continental ridged forests, sandy soils and calciferous rocks. In Finland it grows in a few places as a legacy of the warm period that followed the Ice Age. The species’ strongest, albeit very separate concentration is in Koillismaa, in channels and ravines in Kuusamo and Salla. Almost all of these northern stands are on alkaline, calciferous dolomite rock embankments and gravel slopes in Oulanka national park. It grows in southern Finland in Satakunta, south-west Finland and the northern part of the province of Kymi. Its habitat is always treeless, sun-baked sandy banks or light-filled, sparsely-wooded pine heaths. Fastigiate gypsophila only thrives in places where there is no complete vegetative cover – stands die out if they get choked by brush. An increase in moss and lichen cover is often a fatal sign for gypsophila, and it leaves to find an open habitat with no competitors. Fastigiate gypsophila spreads well to new sandy patches because its dried flowering stems remain erect during the winter and the seeds spread over the snow and in spring with melt-water. A little bit of dry weather is no problem for the plant because its strong taproot can push down up to a metre into the soil.

Fastigiate gypsophila is a weak competitor which often exploits human activity such as forest fires, road clearing and land digging, and even army exercise areas. On the other hand, planted forests, the fertilisation of forest land, gravel excavation and the tidying up of roadsides has clipped its wings.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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