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Hesperis matronalis - L.

Common Name Sweet Rocket, Dames rocket,
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woodland edges[45], meadows, hedges, grass verges etc, avoiding acid soils[17].
Range S. Europe to Siberia. A garden escape in Britain, occasionally naturalized.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Hesperis matronalis Sweet Rocket, Dames rocket,
Hesperis matronalis Sweet Rocket, Dames rocket,


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Bloom Color: Pink, Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Hesperis matronalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.6 m (2ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Young leaves - raw. Rich in vitamin C, they are used as a cress substitute in salads[183, 244]. A rather bitter flavour, though many people like the extra tang it gives to salads[244]. For culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers[183]. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads[183]. The seed contains 50% of an edible oil - there is a potential for cultivation[74, 177].


Medicinal Uses

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Diaphoretic  Diuretic

The leaves are antiscorbutic, diaphoretic and diuretic[74, 244]. They are best harvested when the plant is in flower[244].


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Other Uses

Essential  Oil

An essential oil from the seed is used in perfumery[46, 61]. The plant is cultivated for this purpose.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Massing, Specimen, Woodland garden. Prefers a rich moist well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun or semi-shade[111, 244]. Requires a neutral to alkaline soil[200]. Prefers an alkaline soil[190]. Tolerates poor soils[200, 233]. Grows well in damp, shady or grassy places[187]. Established plants are drought resistant[190]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[187]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is a short-lived perennial[187] and is often grown as a biennial. A good bee, butterfly and moth plant, it is a specific food plant for the orange-tip butterfly[17, 30, 200]. The flowers are very aromatic with a clove-like fragrance, this is especially apparent in the evening[188, 245]. They usually have very little scent during the day and thus obtained a reputation in folk-lore for deceit[244]. The plant is sometimes cultivated for the essential oil contained in its seed[61]. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers.


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Seed - sow spring in an outdoor seedbed and plant them out in late summer[111]. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. The seed can also be sown in early spring in a warm greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. The seed can also be sown in July for planting out in the following spring. Division. Plants are short-lived perennials, division may not be worthwhile. Cuttings in summer 7cm long in a shady border[111]. Only done with named varieties being grown for ornament, it is not worthwhile otherwise.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Beautiful and very fragrant, but highly invasive to native vegetation, competes young tree seedlings, and difficult to eradicate.   May 27 2011 12:00AM

Highly invasive in the northernmost areas of the US and nearly all of Canada.
Alberta Invasive Plants: Dame's Rocket, Sweet Rocket

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Subject : Hesperis matronalis  
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