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Dames rocket

Botanical Name:

Hesperis matronalis

Common Name:

Dames rocket,Dame’s-rocket,Rocket,Dame’s-violet,Dame's Rocket,Dame's Violet,Mother-Of-The-Evening,Sweet Rocket

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Description

Hesperis matronalis grows 100 cm or taller, with multiple upright, hairy stems. Typically, the first year of growth produces a mound of foliage, and flowering occurs the second year; the plants are normally biennials, but a number of races can be short-lived perennials. The plants have showy blooms in early to mid spring. The leaves are alternately arranged on upright stems and lanceolate-shaped; they typically have very short or lack petioles and have toothed margins, but sometimes are entire and are widest at the base. The foliage has short hairs on the top and bottom surfaces that give the leaves a somewhat rough feel. The larger leaves are around 12 cm long and over 4 cm wide. In early spring, a thick mound of low-growing foliage is produced; during flowering the lower parts of the stems are generally unbranched and denuded of foliage and the top of the blooming plant might have a few branches that end in inflorescences. The plentiful, fragrant flowers are produced in large, showy, terminal racemes that can be 30+ cm tall and elongate as the flowers of the inflorescence bloom. When stems have both flowers and fruits, the weight sometimes causes the stems to bend. Each flower is large (2 cm across), with four petals. Flower coloration varies, with different shades of lavender and purple most common, but white, pink, and even some flowers with mixed colors exist in cultivated forms. A few different double-flowered varieties also exist. The four petals are clawed and hairless. The flowers have six stamens in two groups, the four closest to the ovary are longer than the two oppositely positioned. Stigmas are two-lobed. The four sepals are erect and form a mock tube around the claws of the petals and are also colored similarly to the petals.Some plants may bloom until August, but warm weather greatly shortens the duration on each flower's blooming. Seeds are produced in thin fruits 5–14 cm long pods, containing two rows of seeds separated by a dimple. The fruit are terete and open by way of glabrous valves, constricted between the seeds like a pea pod. Seeds are oblong, 3–4 mm long and 1–1.5 mm wide.In North America, Hesperis matronalis is often confused with native Phlox species that also have similar large showy flower clusters. They can be distinguished from each other by foliage and flower differences: dame's rocket has alternately arranged leaves and four petals per flower, while phloxes have opposite leaves and five petals.   Stand of dame's rocket in a forested setting   Naturalized Sweet Rocket, Whitelands Wood, Butser Hill, England

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Taxonomy

Order

Capparales

Family

Brassicaceae

Genus

Hesperis

Characteristics

Bloom Time

Spring

Plant Type

Herbaceous Perennial, Perennial, Wildflower

Lifespan

Biennial, Perennial

Flower

fragrant (clove-like scent, especially in the evenings), white to purple or pink with 4 petals in a cross; bloom in late spring

Fruit

Siliques (long slender fruits) are 2-4 inches long and contain a large number of seeds.

How to Grow

Sunlight

Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day), Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)

Benefits
Attracts

Butterflies

Songbirds

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