Hesperis matronalis L. - Dame's Rocket

Hesperis matronalis plant

Family - Brassicaceae

Stems - To 1m tall, somewhat branching above, pubescent, herbaceous.

Hesperis matronalis stem

Leaves - Alternate, lanceolate, typically sessile, toothed(dentate) or rarely entire, pubescent above and below, to +/-12cm long, +4cm broad.

Inflorescence - Terminal racemes to +30cm tall.

Hesperis matronalis inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla purple to blue purple,(other colors seen in cultivation), to 2cm broad. Petals 4, clawed, glabrous. Claw to -1cm long. Limb to +/-1cm long, 8mm broad, emarginate. Stamens 6, 4 closest to ovary longer than outer opposing 2, included. Stigma 2-lobed. Sepals 4, purple, erect and forming mock tube around petal claws, to 6mm long, 1.5mm broad.

Hesperis matronalis flowerFlower close-up.

Hesperis matronalis calyxCalyx.

Fruit - Cylindrical siliques to +10cm long.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Disturbed sites, waste ground, thickets, open woods, roadsides, railroads. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This is one of the most showy members of the Brassicaceae. The flowers are typically much more blue-purple than appear in the top picture. The plant is quite common.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 5-8-00, and off Hwy 29, Guilford County, NC., 4-23-03.


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