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Dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Showy, short-lived perennial or biennial, 3-4’ tall. Flowering stalks emerge in spring.
Dame's rocket is Restricted (Orange counties)
Other names for this plant include:
- Common names: dame's-violet, mother-of-the-evening, sweet rocket. (Sometimes mistaken for the native wood phlox.)
- Invades moist and mesic woodlands, on woodland edges, and along roadsides, and in open areas.
- Dame’s rocket is thought by many to be a native wildflower and is found in wildflower seed mixes and planted as an ornamental
- It quickly escapes cultivation because of its prolific seed set.
Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted
Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for dame's rocket was based upon this literature review developed by the department.
First year plants: Leaves form a basal rosette that overwinters.
Second year leaves: Lance-shaped, finely toothed, and alternate with short to no leaf stalk (sessile or with a very short petiole). Leaves decrease in size as they ascend the stem. Fine hairs on leaves and stems. Distinct light green midrib.
Flowers: 4-petaled flowers of white, pink, or purple color found on large, loose, rounded inflorescences. Fragrant, especially at night. Bloom late spring through summer.
Fruits & seeds: Abundant; produced in long, narrow seed pods (siliques), up to 5” long, that are constricted between seeds and break apart lengthwise at maturity.
Roots: Weak taproot.
Similar species: Native Phlox spp. have opposite leaves that are not toothed, and flowers with five petals, not four.
Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata; non-native) has opposite leaves that are not toothed, and flowers with five petals, not four. Blooms in late summer.
Counties in WI where dame's rocket has been reported (as of June 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.
Do you have dame's rocket in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.
Mechanical: Pull plants in early spring; plants in bloom should be bagged and disposed of in a landfill. Burn infested areas in seedling or rosette stage.
Chemical: Foliar spray with glyphosate or triclopyr on large infestations in late fall when native plants are dormant but the basal rosettes of dame’s rocket are still green.
For more information on control techniques, visit the Dame's rocket factsheet by University of Wisconsin-Extension.
View dame's rocket pictures in our photo gallery!
Sources for content:
- Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 107-108
- Johnson, Lisa. 2001. University of Wisconsin Garden Facts, Invasive Plant Series: Dames Rocket.
- USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area Forest Health Staff. Dames rocket.
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