Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Explore Outdoors ~ Dame's Rocket


Go for a walk along any country road in the northeast and you're likely to come upon swaths of these beautiful phlox-like flowers. Ranging from white to pink to purple, the flowers bloom atop stems standing two-to four-feet high. 

But here's the thing: they aren't phlox. Look closely and you notice that these flowers have four petals. Phlox have five. These leaves are toothy, with rough edges; phlox leaves are smooth.

These beautiful blooms are an invasive mustard called "Dame's Rocket" (Hesperis matronalis), brought to the US from Europe about 400 years ago. They are pretty, but they crowd out native species - flowers that the native bees and butterflies depend on. So if you see some on your walk, go ahead and pick them - just don't plant any (or allow them to go to seed if they grow near you). Unfortunately, their seeds are often included in wildflower mixes.

Want to know more? Here's an article from Ohio State U, and here's one from U of Wisconsin extension.

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