Dame’s Rocket – Hesperis Matronalis
Right now we are all seeing the most vivid and numerous Dame’s Rocket displays in memory in our area in Bradford, Sullivan Tioga and Lycoming counties. This four petaled flower comes in various colors: pink, lavender purple or white and blooms in clusters from one to three feet high along roadsides, wood edges and various other places. It is member of the mustard family with its long seed pods. It also likes both full sun and full shade; an unusual trait for a flower.
Dame’s Rocket is really an easy wildflower to identify once seen. Given my lack of being to identify all colors of the spectrum (think color-blind or color challenged), this wildflower simply “stands out” to me. This gorgeous wildflower produces both flowers and seed pods at nearly the same time each spring. Sometimes the flowers get so heavy at their apex (top) that the flower falls over because of its weight.
Hot weather stops the blooms of Dame’s Rocket. I have been unable to find why this flower is so named other than the Latin word Hesperis means scented. This flower is most fragrant in the early evening hours of daylight. My sense of smell does not desert me ever and thus I can enjoy scents better than most folks. It has been written many times that the lack of one sense seems to enhance another. I will take smell over color most anytime. Besides, I have Linda to tell me if my clothing does not match. She will not tell me who made up this stupid rule.
The wildflower grows in Eurasia, a word I had to research. It is a combination of Europe and Asia. It is the largest land mass on Earth. I so enjoy looking us words and places for which I am not familiar. One’s knowledge grows, and that is a very good thing indeed.
You can easily buy domesticated Dame’s Rocket flower seeds almost everywhere. I looked online because almost all the Internet places that sell this, or any item, are listed there. It is true that the American buying public is shopping more online because of the ease of finding what you want without searching a bunch of stores for the item. My grandfather, William F. McCloskey got me hooked on peppermint lifesavers when I was only a young lad. Now, you can only buy the rolls at a candy outlet online.
One item of note to pass along about Dame’s Rocket. Many of us misidentified this flower with the Garden Phlox, a five-petaled flower which looks much the same in color and height. The Garden Phlox blooms starting in July until September.
We will have more wildflowers to write about as we go through late spring and summer.
Enjoy the wonderful things in nature that God gives to us each day!