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Dame's rocket


Dame's rocket is an invasive plant in Calgary that can rapidly spread. It chokes out natural vegetation and harbours dangerous plant diseases.

dames rocket plant
Dames rocket infestation

How you can stop Dame's rocket from spreading

You can help! Here's how:

  • Avoid purchasing wildflower seed mixes as Dame's rocket is a common contaminant.
  • Know how to distinguish Dame's rocket (Hesperis matrionalis has 4-petals) from similar-looking ornamental species like Garden Phlox (Phlox species are 5-petaled.)
  • Opt to plant alternatives to Dame's rocket and discourage the establishment of plants invading from neighbouring areas.
  • Pulling individual plants out of the ground can be highly effective, as roots come out easily from moist soil.

What is Dame's rocket?

Dames rocket plant
photo by: Anneli Salo

Plant Type: biennial or short-lived perennial, rosette in first year Size: upright, 1m tall with hairy stems, often branched

Leaves: alternate along stem, lance-shaped with serrated edges

close up of dames rocket flower
photo: Jason Pratt

Flowers: flowers are 2 cm wide with 4 petals, variety of colours (pink, white, lavender and purple) blooms are fragrant particularly in the evening.

Dame's rocket rapidly self-seeds and forms dense infestations quickly – in fact, each plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds. It's a highly competitive plant that thrives in ditches and waste areas. It is often part of wildflower seed mixes, whether on the label or not.

Dame's rocket is also known as Hesperis matrionali, Damask violet, Dame's violet, Dames-wort, Dame's gilliflower, night scented gilliflower, Queen's gilliflower, Rogue's gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower

Common/garden phlox (Phlox paniculata,)Southcombe double cranesbill (Geranium oxonianum,) purple smoke baptisia (Baptisia australis,) and autumn joy sedum (Sedum x 'Autumn Joy') are all non-harmful alternatives to Dame's rocket.

Want to know more? Learn more about The City's initiatives to prevent invasive plant infestations - or find out what the Alberta Invasive Plants Council has to say about Dame's Rocket.​