Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dame's Rocket - Hesperis matronalis   L.
Members of Brassicaceae:
Only member of Hesperis in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Capparales » Family Brassicaceae
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DistributionMountains, plus Forsyth County in Piedmont. Other SERNEC specimens from Iredell, Jackson, and Wake counties are misidentified and appear to be Raphanus sativum.

Native of Eurasia and northern Africa; in N.A. Southern Canada and the northern U.S. south to NC, AR, CO, CA.
AbundanceUncommon in the northern Mountains, but rare in the southern Mountains and east into the northwestern Piedmont. Possibly increasing in recent decades, as RAB (1968) listed records only for Ashe, Forsyth, and Mitchell counties, but the increase in counties may simply be due to records from online databases.
HabitatStreamsides, alluvial woods, waste ground, roadsides. Though it seldom enters inside forests, it still can impact native species of wooded margins.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting April-August.
IdentificationDame's Rocket is a familiar exotic (yet attractive) weed in the northern mountains and farther northward. It is very distinctive in its deep lavender, rosy, or red-purple (rarely white), rather large petals (4). The stems are rather tall, reaching 2-4 feet tall; the stem leaves are sessile, lance-shaped to ovate, pointed, margins entire or with scattered tiny teeth. The basal leaves usually have disappeared by flowering. Wild Radish (Raphanus sativum) has lavender to purplish flowers, and has been mistaken for Dame's Rocket, but the petals are narrower and the leaves are different, including the pinnatifid basal ones. At a distance, a stand of blooming Dame's Rocket can look very much like a phlox species, such as P. carolina; of course, phlox flowers have 5, not 4, petals.
Taxonomic Comments
Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankG4G5
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US Status
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