Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis, Brassicaceae) is a common sight along many roadways and fields in the late spring and early summer. The large, attractive flowers have made it a favorite garden plant since its introduction to North America from Eurasia in the 1600s. Over the centuries it has spread in the wild across most of the continent.
Dame’s rocket is characterized by large four-petaled flowers that are typical of plants in the mustard family. Flower coloration varies from white to pink to purple, often mixed together on adjacent plants. The stems and toothed leaves are covered in fine hairs:
The invasive nature of dame’s rocket has proven to be deleterious to local ecosystems. This plant crowds out native plant species with its dense growth and copious seed production. It’s often sold in “native” seed mixes and planted by unwitting gardeners who aid its spread.