E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Hesperis matronalis L.
sweet rocket (dames rocket; dames'-violet)
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Allan Carson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #12024)

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Distribution of Hesperis matronalis
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Species Information

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Perennial or biennial herb from a taproot; stems 1 to sometimes several, simple or sparingly branched, 0.5-1.3 m tall, leafy, hairy with coarse, spreading, simple or branched hairs.
Basal leaves soon deciduous; stem leaves lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped, saw-toothed, 1.5-20 cm long, 0.5-4 cm wide, lower long-stalked, smaller and unstalked upwards, hairy with simple and branched hairs.
Fragrant; inflorescence compound, somewhat corymbiform racemes; flower stalks 3-15 mm long, ascending to spreading; petals white to rose or purple, 15-25 mm long; sepals 5-7 mm long, soft-hairy.
Siliques, 4-10 cm long, 1-2 mm wide, round in cross section, usually somewhat alternately contracted and expanded; seeds 3-4 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry roadsides, fields and disturbed areas in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in SW BC, known from Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland, rare in SC BC, locally frequent in WC and SE BC; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional Notes

In snapdragons...it has been shown that streaking of the [petals such as is found] in dame's rocket is due to jumping genes. This rather fanciful term refers to a mobile piece of DNA, which can land in the middle of another gene (in this case a pigment gene) and inactivate it (in this case causing albinism). At random intervals the jumping gene jumps out again, causing a streak of normal pigmented tissue.

Source: Griffiths and Ganders. 1983. Wildflower Genetics: A Field Guide for British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Griffiths, Anthony J. F. and Fred R. Ganders. 1983. Wildflower Genetics: A Field Guide for British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Flight Press, Vancouver.

General References