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Dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Dame's rocket Common Names: Dames violet

Description: Introduced in wildflower mixes; in some areas, has been present at low levels for many years but is now spreading aggressively like its mustard family relative, garlic mustard, on many sites.

Habit: Showy, biennial or short-lived perennial; ranging between 0.6-1.0 m (2-3 ft) tall; first year plants over-winter as an evergreen basal rosette.

Leaves: Simple, alternate, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, toothed margins, downy with simple hairs above, branched hairs below; leaves become smaller as they ascend the stem.

Stems: Upright; branched; rough spreading hairs.

Flowers: White in color, pink, or purple in color; 4 petals, borne in terminal clusters; fragrant, clove-like aroma in evening; blooms mid-May through July.

Fruit and seeds: Seeds are rounded, dark reddish-brown, held in long, erect pods or siliques, up to 12 cm (4.75 in) in length; ripen from June through August.

Habitat: Native to Europe. Prefers moist, well-drained loams; tolerates light shade but prefers full sun; tolerates high alkalinity; establishes along roadsides, woodlands, wetlands, old fields and open areas.

Reproduction: By abundant seed production; a single plant produces up to 20,000 seeds.

Similar species: Native phlox (Phlox divaricata) has five petals, rather than four.

Monitoring and rapid response: Monitor roadsides and paths. Dame?s rocket is easiest to identify while in bloom during June and July. Hand-pull plants while the soil is moist. Flower/seed heads must burned or placed in a landfill to prevent seed development. Foliar herbicide treatment is effective in early spring or late fall while native species are dormant. Control efforts should continue for several years until the seed bank is exhausted.

Credits: The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has partnered with MISIN to provide the information in this fact sheet. Species images and/or information were used with permission from "A Field Identification Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan's Natural Communities" and "A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of Aquatic and Wetland Habitats for Michigan.

Common Name:

Dame's rocket

Scientific Name:

Hesperis matronalis




Biennial, Perennial



USDA Symbol:


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