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Dames' Rocket

Dames Rocket

Hesperis matronalis.

 Its common name is Dame's Rocket, Dame's Violet, Sweet Rocket, or Rogue's Gilliflower

The sweet-scented wildflower, Dames Rocket , which I have always called "Night Scented Phlox", or Stock, is actually from Cruciferae the mustard (crucifer)family , and is related to all those healthful vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, mustard, alltold, the Brassicas.
According to many gardening sites, calling the exquisite clusters of flowers "Phlox" is a misnomer, since the flower has a traditional, or classic four petals, like its more homely cousins, whose florets are usually yellow to white.
The wildflower itself, known as Dames Rocket (or Sweet Rocket in Britain) is well known to Canada. Quite early in the year, Spring to late Summer, the tall and many-flowered plant stands in large ten to fifteen foot thickets under shady forest trees, or on byways, where their glowing white or cyclamen flowers are a welcome sight.
At night, Ladys' Rocket becomes a moon flower, its clusters of blooms not only offering a gorgeous perfume which resembles a       combination of lilac and petunia scent to the warm, sweet night air,(hence the affixation,"Night-Scented")but also almost phosphorescently glowing white heads, which mark the garden pathways.
Coupled with large clusters of Oxeye or Marguerite Daisies , Pearly Yarrow,and White Canterbury Bells, which will bloom together,the night garden becomes a medicinally gifted, naturally lit haven, as the night cools the air to comfortably fine.

Dames Rocket also blooms as a variegated flower, ranging from bluish cyclamen through rose-pink to white, in stripey patterns.Most of the helpful links on this page will give you fabulous imagery, so don't forget to tour the many aspects of these herbs, through linking.

zoom images/medicinal plants library

dames rocket floret

For more gorgeous shots of Sweet Rocket, check the Ontario Wildflowers base as listed here:

The inevitably helpful (and practical) Mrs Grieve: A Modern Herbal lists the plant as a "perfumed bee plant" and also states that one may use the leaves as a cress in salads.
The British are fond of their mustard and cress sprouts, which were available as a household staple twenty five years before North America had heard of using sprouts as a green.

A Modern Herbal list Dames Rocket as a Garden Botanical: of the family   N.O. Cruciferae .There is not much that is modern of its constituents, but these are noted as  resembling those of the Cochlearea, with a taste  less acrid and piquant.

In medical yesteryear, Sweet zRocket was an imprtant medicinal herb, used principally as antiscorbutic. A strong dose will cause vomiting, "..and may be taken in the place of ipecacuanha" When dreid and powdered, this is a milder emetic than mustard.

Relatives: "The Sea-Rocket or Cakile maritima, Eruca marina, often found on sandhills, is very acrid, and can be used as an antiscorbutic, being prescribed in scrofulous affections, lymphatic disturbances, and the malaise that follows malaria. It is important not to confuse it with the real Rocket."

Don't forget Sunflowers with milk are used as folk remedy in the sickbed, to reduce the fever of Malaria, so that a poultice of powdered Sea Rocket and Sunflowers might be beneficial, if there is nothing else handy.

dames rocket floret

How-to:    Form an herb "physic" garden. Read further in this site:

"...itís hard to limit yourself to just a few. Some excellent choices for the scented garden include English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), all kinds of mints, oregano, rosemary, scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), costmary (Chrysanthemum balsamita), and dameís rocket (Hesperis matronalis), whose flowers release a delightful clovelike aroma in the evening....."

Below, a link for lovers- a company which makes floral seed souvenir paper cards and other products , which you can plant for love: lovely

Hesperis matronalis was formerly used as a pot plant:

A list of Heritage plants

matronalis in Salem:

 The Heritage Herb Garden called Bethabara

(very interesting) 


An article on naturalized wildflowers introduces the knowledge that Dames Rocket was not always an indigenous wildflower, and it has, in fact, been naturalized.The work, by Mary Tucker,Cherokee County Master Gardener, is called THINK AGAIN. Mary describes how the plants have been moved from their natural habitat byhumans transporting seed.Plants now considered mildly noxious (or invasive, ie a natural nuisance like Loosestrife)were brought to North America as ornamentals, crop plantsor for medicines of the period.

"Not all exotic species are harmful, and many are beneficial. As a matter of fact, the large majority of our agricultural plants are non-native."

dames rocket floret


"The problem occurs when a species is extremely aggressive in its growth habit and does significant damage by overtaking desirable species or by affecting the ecosystem. These invasive alien plants typically have several of the following characteristics:"

(Mary Tucker) Read more through the link below:

Interest site

This also links to:  ecologizing salt marshes

Ecological Context and Vegetation Restoration (Hesperis matronalis is listed as moderately invasive)

Part of the species listed as found in this Connecticut Salt  Marsh are as follows:

Connecticut Pinaceae (Pine Family) Juniperus virginiana (red cedar) Typhaceae (Cattail Family) Typha latifolia (common cattail) Gramineae (Grass Family) Agropyron repens2 (quack grass) Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint grass) Dactylis glomerata2 (orchard grass) Phragmites australis (common reed) Poa pratensis2 (Kentucky bluegrass) Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) Spartina pectinata (freshwater cordgrass) Cyperaceae (Sedge Family) Carex crinita (sedge) C. stricta (tussock sedge) C. spp. (sedges) Fimbristylis autumnalis Scirpus cyperinus (wool-grass) Araceae (Arum Family) Peltandra virginica (arrow arum) Juncaceae (Rush Family) Juncus effusus (soft rush) Liliaceae (Lily Family) Smilacina racemosa (false spikenard) Iridaceae (Iris Family) Iris pseudacorus2 (yellow iris) I. versicolor (blue flag) Salicaceae (Willow Family) Populus deltoides (cottonwood) P. tremuloides (trembling aspen) Salix babylonica2 (weeping willow) S. nigra (black willow) Myricaceae (Wax Myrtle Family) Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry) Juglandaceae (Walnut Family) Carya glabra (pignut hickory) C. ovata (shagbark hickory) APPENDIX: PLANT SPECIES OF WEST RIVER MEMORIAL PARK1 Corylaceae (Hazel Family) Alnus sp. (alder) Betula populifolia (gray birch) B. lenta (black birch) Fagaceae (Beech Family) Fagus grandifolia (American beech) Quercus alba (white oak) Q. bicolor (swamp white oak) Q. coccinea (scarlet oak) Q. palustris (pin oak) Q. rubra (red oak) Q. velutina (black oak) Ulmaceae (Elm Family) Ulmus americana (American elm) U. rubra (slippery elm) Moraceae (Mulberry Family) Morus alba2 (white mulberry) Urticaceae (Nettle Family) Urtica dioica2 (stinging nettle) Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family) Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb) P. scandens (climbing false buckwheat) Reynoutria japonica2 (Japanese knotweed) Rumex crispus (curled dock) Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family) Chenopodium album2 (lamb°¶s quarters) Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed Family) Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family) Saponaria officinalis2 (bouncing bet) Silene alba2 (white campion) Papaveraceae (Poppy Family) Chelidonium majus2 (celandine) Cruciferae (Mustard Family) Hesperis matronalis2 (dames rocket) Platanaceae (Plane Tree Family) Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)


 In the United States, in some States,listed as less invasive than those in Category 1, these species are significantly replacing native species, as category 2 (partial list) Aegopodium podagraria - Goutweed Berberis vulgaris - Common barberry Bromus inermis - Smooth brome Cirsium arvense - Canada thistle Cirsium palustre - Marsh thistle, European Swamp Thistle Egeria densa Planchon - Brazilian Water-weed Epilobium hirsutum - Hairy Willow-herb Euonymus alatus - Winged Euonymus, Winged burning bush Euonymus fortunei - wintercreeper, Climbing Euonymus Festuca elatior - Tall-fescue, alta-fescue Festuca pratensis - Meadow-fescue Hesperis matronalis - Dame's rocket .

Dames Rocket is an official nectary for one specific species of beetle, called Meligethes matronalis.

info on beetle nectaries/specific attractants . SAIN Invasive Plant Pests Resource Collection for Hesperis matronalis Common name: Dame's Rocket Title: Identification of Meligethes matronalis and M. subaeneus based on morphometric and ecological characters (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). Author: Audisio-Paolo ; Belfiore-Carlo; De-Biase-Alessio ; Antonini-Gloria. Source: European-Journal-of-Entomology. [print] March 15, 2001; 98 (1): 87-97. Source Type: Journal Publication Date: 2001 Meligethes matronalis is strictly associated with Hesperis matronalis L. (Brassicaceae) in early Summer

Note: In the garden, the plant is easily manged, and also attracts butterflies, Hummingbirds and Wild Canaries, so they are a beautiful ornamental.

Title: Nectar-carbohydrate production and composition vary in relation to nectary anatomy and location within individual flowers of several species of Brassicaceae. Author: Davis-Arthur-R ; Pylatuik-Jeffrey-D; Paradis-Joelle-C; Low-Nicholas-H. Source: Planta-Berlin. 205 (2) 305-318. Source Type: Journal Publication Date: 1998 ------  -another member of the Meligethes family. direct list


Invasive Plant Fact Sheet  

 seed co.The sale of Dame's Rocket to addresses in the state of Colorado is prohibited

"To date, it is not considered a huge problem, and it's NOT in the same league as purple loosestrife..."


 Horticultural Saga of detailed majesty

Wiccan Herb encyclopaedia /Garden Rocket: very detailed

Care more for the quiet book? 

Chemoprevention by Phytochemical Modifiers of Carcinogen Metabolism Isothiocyanates and Glucosinolates Inhibition of Carcinogenesis By Isothiocyanates, Glucosinolates, and Cruciferous Vegetables Indole-3-Carbinol Thiols of Allium Plants Book on cancer inhibitors on Brassicas re glucosinates: Phytochemicals as Bioactive Agents, edited by Wayne Bidlack, Stanley Omaye, Mark Meskin, and Debra Topham 

dames rocket floret

Clear Definitions: Diet Optimisation

"Nutraceutical is a word recently coined to transmit immediately the idea of something with properties intermediate between food and drug. Many authors define nutraceutical as a food or any part of food that gives a health benefit above and beyond providing simple nutrition or basic fortification"

Today the most important nutraceutical formulations contain vitamins with antioxidant properties, oligosaccharides, sulfides, lactoferrin, omega-3 fatty acids, medium chain triglycerides, carotinoids, phenolic compounds of plant origin, terpens, and glucosinolates and/or their degradation products

(Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, radish, cauliflower, etc.) are important for reducing the risk of cancer, mostly colorectal cancer in man (13-17).

  Phytochemicals - Vitamins of the Future? HYG-5050-98 Sereana Howard Dresbach Amy Rossi More than 900 different phytochemicals have been identified as components of food, and many more phytochemicals continue to be discovered today.......Phytochemicals are associated with the prevention and/or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death in the United States -- cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension


"Flavonoids Comprising more than 2,000 substances, flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, wine and tea, especially green tea. These pervasive substances may defend cells against carcinogens, curb the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Major flavonoid classes include flavonols, flavanones, catechins, anthocyanins, isoflavones, dihydroflavonols and chalcones. + Glucosinolates Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watercress, turnips and cabbage are not only loaded with vitamins and minerals but also contain phytochemicals called indoles and isothiocyanates, collectively called glucosinolates.

These compounds have been shown to trigger enzyme systems that block or suppress DNA damage. They also appear to reduce tumor size and work against the high levels of estrogen associated with breast cancer" 

Before you leap - where seed and greens are so important to natures food chain in the wild, don't forget to preserve what may be of importance to the health of the land.

There is so much to learn of our beloved herbs. I consider Dames Rocket in my holy prayers, when I choose the garden for a temple.

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