Dame’s Rocket

Hesperis matronalis

Keys to Identification

  • Dame’s Rocket is a member of the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) This escaped ornamental is beginning to show up in our wildlands.

  • This native of Europe may be either a biennial or perennial, and may be from 1-1/2 to 4 feet tall, flowers range in color from white to pink to purple. Dame’s Rocket flowers from April through July. This plant tends to invade riparian and wetland habitat. There are many alternatives to planting Dame’s Rocket including Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) and Lavender Native Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa menthaefolia).

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program.


Mustard (Brassicaceae)

Other Names

Sweet rocket, dame’s violet



Legal Status

Colorado Noxious Weed List B



Biennial or short-lived perennial

Growth form



Flowers are white or purple with 4 petals. Flowers are clustered in loose terminal stalks. May-Sept.


Fruits are many seeded, long and narrow and approximately cylindrical. Seeds are small (3-4 mm long), angular, grooved and dark reddish-brown (Stubbendieck et al. 1995).


Leaves are alternate, 2-4 in long, lance-shaped, with finely toothed margins.


Mature plants range from 4 in to 3 ft tall.


Shallow fibrous root system.


No information available.



No information available.


Dame’s rocket is commonly planted as an ornamental, but quickly escapes cultivation because of its prolific seed production (Wisconsin DNR 1998). It is thought to be a limited invasive species that will readily invade disturbed ground but is rarely found in undisturbed areas.

Habitat and Distribution

General requirements

Dame’s rocket prefers moist soils that have a pH range of 6-7.5. It is commonly found in gardens, partly shaded woodlands, ditches, and other areas that have moist soils and light shade (Perry 1997). Dame’s rocket is often found along roadsides, pastures, rangelands, thickets and open woods.


Found throughout the northern United States.


Dame’s rocket is native to Eurasia and is sold as a garden ornamental. Part of its success can be attributed to its wide distribution in “wildflower” seed mixes (Wisconsin DNR 1998). Dame’s rocket is not widely recognized as an invasive species. Consequently, it may not be recognized as a problem until it is well established (Wisconsin DNR 1998).



Dame’s rocket generally produces a basal rosette the first year, and flowers the following year. The plants are prolific bloomers and produce large quantities of seed from May through July. Individual plants may have several clusters of flowers at various stages of development, enabling the plant to produce both flowers and seeds at the same time (Wisconsin DNR 1998).

Mode of reproduction

Reproduces by seeds.

Seed production

Produces large quantities of seed.

Seed bank

The majority of the seeds will germinate the following year, but some seeds may remain dormant for several years.


An escaped ornamental.


Wisconsin DNR. 1998. Dame’s Rocket, (Hesperis matronalis). Exotic species factsheet. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Available: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/invasive/factsheets/dames.htm

Perry, Leonard.1997. Hesperis matronalis, Plant lecture list for PSS 123. University of Vermont. Internet 2/2/99. Available: http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/wmhesp.html

Stubbendieck, J., G.Y. Friisoe and M.R. Bolick. 1995. Damesrocket. Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, Lincoln, Nebraska. pg. 211.