Dame's Rocket
Hesperis matronalisBrassicaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitFruit
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Dame's violet, Sweet rocket, Mother-of-the-evening

The Plant:

  • An erect herbaceous biennial or perennial, reaching 1.5-4 feet tall.

The Leaves:

  • 2-4 inches long
  • lance shaped
  • alternate
  • pubescent stem
  • sessile or short petioles
  • toothed margins
  • pubescent

The Stem:

  • erect
  • branching near top

The Flowers:

  • Fragrant pink, purple, or white four-petaled flowers, 2.5 inches wide, grow in terminal racemes. Blooms from May to June.

The Fruits:

  • 2-4 inches long siliques
  • green turning brown
  • many seeds

The Habitat:

  • rich open woods, wetlands, roadsides, gardens


  • seeds are ejected from the plant when pods open
  • birds
  • sometimes still planted

Key ID Features:

  • branched
  • lanced shaped leaves and stem hairy
  • toothed
  • fragrant, pink, purple, or white flowers

Similar Species:

  • Dame's rocket closely resembles Phlox species, but has 4 separate petals and alternate leaves, while Phlox has 5 fused petals and opposite leaves.


  • Typically seen as a basal rosette during its first year of growth. It is typically spread by seed in nature and by the purchase of wildflower seed mixes by unsuspecting gardeners.
  • On Nantucket, this species can be found at the Sconset Dump.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Invasive

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: importation ban, propagation ban

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston