Dame’s Rocket

Dame’s Rocket
Hesperis matronalis
Other names: dame’s rocket, damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower.
Family: Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)
Range: Found through much of the US and Canada.  (It was brought to North America in the 17th century.)  Four states (Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Wisconsin) have some sort of invasive species status around it.
Native: Introduced
Native Habitat: Biennial or short lived perennial native to Europe.    Prefers full sun to partial shade in moist soils with good drainage.
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Hesperis comes from the word for evening, and may have been given to the plant because the scent is more pronounced in the evening.
The plant is an aggressive reseeder, so seems like more of a perennial than it really is.    It is used in gardening.     (It’s easily confused with tall garden phlox.)
This is one of those plants that people can get very exercised about, invasive-wise, and it’s easy too see why, when it’s in bloom.     For a little while it seems to be everywhere.   (My pictures have it in the forest, in fields, and even on a rocky beach.)     Compounding the problem is that it’s been here so long, people think it’s a native, so it’s still planted in gardens, and even apparently found in wildflower mixes.    It’s a shame, because it’s a pretty plant, but it can definitely get everywhere.
Locations in Photos:
My neighborhood
Fort Foster, Kittery
Ellsworth, ME (near my father’s house)

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, ME

Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Edited 2/11/18 to add pictures taken since last publish date, and to update tags.


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