Dame’s Rocket

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Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) lights up the hillsides of Pittsburgh in late spring. Pittsburghers commonly refer to it as “phlox,” but it’s actually a member of the crucifer or mustard family, as you might guess by its four petals in a cross shape. It’s a foreign invader, a descendant of garden flowers brought by the first European settlers. But who can object to a weed as beautiful as this? The flowers commonly come in a range of colors from vivid purple through pink to white, but some patches have bicolor flowers delicately spattered with color in an infinite variety of patterns.

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2 thoughts on “Dame’s Rocket

  1. I was just wondering if you knew any sites that have a lot of dame’s rocket present. The lab I work for is doing research and we need some for our experiment.

    1. Dame’s Rocket is everywhere, particularly where there are slightly overgrown roadsides. It is, of course, easiest to recognize in the spring, when the flowers make it impossible to miss, but it does produce occasional straggly flowers all season. Look for the phlox-like plant with four-petaled flowers.

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