[The Mustard Family in the Columbia River Gorge]

Damask Violet, Dame's Rocket, Mother-of-the-evening, Sweet Rocket

Hesperis matronalis


A pretty garden plant, sweet rocket may sometimes be found growing in the wilds. In the garden, it easily self seeds and spreads across the garden, so much so that it may need occasional thinning or removal. It is an erect, upright plant with one to several stems that may be simple or somewhat branched.. Height ranges from 50-130 cm. The herbage is covered with several lengths of simple and forked hairs. The leaves are ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate with toothed margins, and range from 5-20 cm long. The lower leaves are petioled, but the petiole becomes reduced in length upwards on the stem, to the point where the leaves become sessile.

The flowers form dense, corymbiform racemes. The fragrant, 4-petalled flowers have a lavender to purple or occasionally white coloration. The petals range from 18-25 mm in length. The 4 sepals are hairy and the seed capsules are long thin siliques from 4-10 cm long.


A sweet smelling "garden" flower that occasionally escapes cultivation, sweet rocket may be found on waste or disturbed ground, and occasionally along roadsides.


Sweet rocket is occasionally found near cities, small towns, or near farms across North America.

It is found primarily at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge, between Crown Point and the Wind River between the elevations of 100'-1200'.

Paul Slichter