Dame's-rocket, Hesperis matronalis

Life Cycle



Reproducing only by seed.


Stems - erect, 45-140cm high, often branched above.


Lanceolate (Fig 7), up to 15cm long, pubescent, shallowly dentate, short-stalked (Fig 1:a) or stalkless (Fig 1:b), with acuminate tips.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers (Fig 5) in elongated racemes (Fig 6, Fig 1:c), very showy and fragrant; each flower (d) 1.4-2.5cm across; the 4 petals purple, or varying to shades of pink or white; seedpods (Fig 1:e)(siliques) 2.5-14cm long, somewhat constricted between the seeds. Flowers from May to August.


Dame's-rocket is an old-fashioned ornamental that was introduced from Europe and escaped from cultivation. It is common in damp soil along roadsides, rivers, fencerows and ditches and in waste areas, forests and abandoned orchards in southern Ontario (Fig 2, 3).

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished by its tall stems, its showy purple to pink or white petals, pubescent, sharply toothed leaves and its habit of growing in scattered or thick stands in non-cultivated areas.

Often Mistaken For

Phlox species.

Figure #1.

Dame's-rocket A. Lower part of flowering plant. B. Upper part of flowering plant.

Figure #2.

Dame's-rocket along road side in Central Ontario in June.

Figure #3.

Dame's-rocket growing on field side, late June in Central Ontario.

Figure #4.

Flowers in elongated racemes.

Figure #5.

Purple flowers of Dame's-rocket.

Figure #6.

Seedpods of Dame's-rocket.

Figure #7.

Sharply toothed leaves of Dame's-rocket.

Figure #8.

Erect stem of Dame's-rocket.

Figure #9.

Root of Dame's-rocket.