Dame's Rocket -Damask Violet (Hesperis matronalis) Heirloom Woodland Wildflowers Flower
Height 3-4 ft
Damask Violet also known as Dame's Rocket, dame's, rogue's or queen's gilliflower, vesper flower, mother-of-the-evening: many of the names reference its sweet scent–likened to a mixture of clove and violet, and to the time of day when that scent is released into the air which is in the early evening.
Plants have multiple upright, hairy stems that produce showy (2 cm across) extremely fragrant Phlox-like flowers that bloom in early to mid spring, and has lance shaped leaves. Typically, the first year of growth produces a mound of foliage, and it flowers in the second year. Flowers are plentiful and produced in large, showy, terminal racemes that can be 30+ cm tall and elongate as the flowers of the inflorescence bloom. Each flower has 4 petals and the coloration varies from different shades of lavenders and purples being most common, but white, pink, and even some flowers with mixed colors exist in cultivated forms.
Some plants may bloom until August, but warm weather greatly shortens the duration on each of the flowers blooming. Seeds are produced in thin fruits 5–14 cm long pods.
In North America, Hesperis matronalis is often confused with native Phlox species that also have similar large showy flower clusters. They can be distinguished from each other by foliage and flower differences: dame's rocket has alternately arranged leaves and four petals per flower, while phloxes have opposite leaves and five petals.
Young Dame's Rocket flowers do have a bitter flavor and adds an extra zing to salads. For culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers. Leaves are high in vitamin C and can be eaten in salads and have a slightly bitter taste. Seeds can be sprouted and also eaten in salads.
- Sun to part shade
- moist and well draining soil
- Sow seeds directly after the soil begins to warm in the spring.
- OR, start indoors; sow seeds on the surface of the soil in a flat. Keep the soil moist and at a temperature of 70-75 F until germination, which usually occurs within 21-30 days. Transplant outdoors after all risk of frost has passed.
- Spacing: 12-24 in apart
- great plant for forest and woodland settings
- Attracts beneficial bees, moths and insects
- Seed Count: 1/2 gram