Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Dame's Rocket: Hesperis matronalis

damesrocket5-23c.jpg (169727 bytes) Weed Description:  Erect biennial or perennial that may reach 4 to 5 feet in height.  Dame's Rocket is commonly viewed as a desirable wildflower-type plant that blooms in May or June in Virginia.

Leaves: Lower leaves range from 3 to 8 inches in length and taper into a short petiole.  Leaves become progressively smaller up the stem and are hairy on both sides.  Upper leaves are also hairy but are without petioles or only have short petioles.  All leaves are lanceolate in outline.

Stems:  Erect, hairy, reaching 4 or 5 feet in height.

Roots: A taproot.

damesrocket5-23b.jpg (82405 bytes)
damesrocket5-23.jpg (110493 bytes) Flowers:  Occur in showy clusters.  Individual flowers are purple or white in color, 8 to 12 mm wide.

Fruit: A silique that is 2 to 4 inches long, 2 1/2 mm wide.

Identifying Characteristics:   Erect plants with lanceolate leaves that become progressively smaller up the stem and have showy clusters of purple or white flowers.  Some ironweeds like New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) may resemble dame's rocket prior to flowering, however dame's rocket flowers very early in the season and has usually senesced by the time the ironweeds bloom later in the fall.   Additionally, the leaves of dame's rocket are generally wider than those of New York ironweed. damesrocket5-23d.jpg (122049 bytes)