Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Like a Rocket - A Dame's Rocket, That Is!

The farmstead was abandoned long ago. Time has erased the evidence that this little grove of trees ever sheltered a family from the worst of the Kansas winds. 

Only the Dame's rocket was left behind. The spindly purple-headed plants are still nestled in a grove of trees along the Raymond Road. Randy noticed them several years ago, and since then, we watch every spring for their blooming. 

Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses says that Dame's rocket was "an ornamental often planted by early settlers."

Granted, I have a vivid imagination, but I think about a farm wife new to the open plains of Kansas. Many settlers at the time had come from the east - from areas with more trees and vegetation. And I think about her trying to beautify this little spot of a new home with some pretty purple blooms.

Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) produces either white, pink or purple flowers in April and May. It was introduced to North America in the 1600s from Eurasia.  It is often seen in roadside ditches, hedgerows and older farmsteads. Scott Vogt from Dyck Arboretum in Hesston sees Dame's rocket as an invasive weed. In a publication from Dyck's Arboretum, Vogt writes: 

Dame’s Rocket is closely related to other problematic weeds of the mustard, family such as garlic mustard, hedge mustard, wild radish and yellow rocket. All of these weeds are prolific and opportunistic, infesting field margins, woodlands, open grassland and wetlands.  It ... has the ability to produce chemicals that prevent or reduce the growth of other plants similar to garlic mustard. With these tendencies, Dame’s rocket and garlic mustard will quickly form dense monocultures within a few years, pushing out other desirable native plants. 

That may be, but I still love the purple nestled under the trees. Randy knows I love them, so he tried to transplant some of the Dame's rocket at our homestead last year. It didn't take. So he tried again this year. We'll see how it fares.

 I am firmly in Winnie the Pooh's camp on this one:

Weeds are flowers, too,
once you get to know them.
Winnie the Pooh



  1. Unless they are lantana. I've seen them in pots in nurseries here, and OS, and recall the exhaustion it caused my father.
    I do love the Dame's rocket. If you didn't want it at your homestead, it most surely would have been.

    1. That's probably true! It's kind of Murphy's Law!