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Hesperis matronalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Biennial or Perennial
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, towns, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Variable in colour, 4 petals
Very variable in colour ranging from purple, lilac and white, 4 petals, up to 2cm across. Similar-looking flower to Phlox, but Phlox has 5 petals and not 4.
Slender, elongated, cylindrical pods, each up to 4 inches long. They emerge outwards from the main stem and then curves upwards. Each pod contains a single row of seeds.
Lanceolate, mostly stalkless with toothed margins, up to 5 inches long. The base of the leaf is rounded and leaf tip tapers into a point.
Dame's-violet is renowned for its sweet and fragrant aroma, particularly noticeable in the evening. The flowers emit a delightful scent that adds to the plant's charm. The fragrance is often described as sweet and can be enjoyed in outdoor settings, making it a popular choice in gardens and natural landscapes. This captivating aroma contributes to the plant's appeal, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies during its flowering period.
Other Names:
Damask-violet, Dame's Gilliflower, Dame's Rocket, Dame's Violet, Dame's-wort, Garden Rocket, Mother-of-the-Evening, Night-scented Gilliflower, Queen's Gilliflower, Rogue's Gilliflower, Summer Lilac, Sweet Rocket, Sweet Rocket, Winter Gilliflower.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Hesperis matronalis, also known as dame's rocket or sweet rocket, is a flowering plant species in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia, but it has naturalized in many other parts of the world and is often grown as a garden ornamental. The plant has clusters of fragrant, four-petaled purple, pink, or white flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. It is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial, which means that it typically grows for two or more years and produces flowers and seeds in its second year of growth. The leaves of Hesperis matronalis are lance-shaped and have a distinctive spicy scent when crushed. The plant is often used in gardens as a border plant, in rock gardens, and as a cut flower.


Dame's-violet (Hesperis matronalis) is a beautiful and fragrant flower that has been enjoyed by gardeners and nature enthusiasts for centuries. Native to Europe and Asia, this hardy plant has now been naturalized in many parts of North America and is considered a valuable addition to any garden.

The plant, also known as sweet rocket, is a perennial that grows up to 3 feet tall and produces spikes of fragrant flowers in shades of violet, purple, white, or pink. These blooms typically appear in late spring or early summer, and they are a favorite of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths.

Dame's-violet is a relatively low-maintenance plant that thrives in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. It is also quite adaptable to different soil types, making it a great option for a wide range of gardening conditions. In fact, the plant is considered invasive in some regions due to its ability to adapt and spread easily.

In addition to its visual and aromatic beauty, Dame's-violet has also been used for a variety of medicinal purposes throughout history. The plant has been used to soothe digestive problems, relieve pain and inflammation, and treat respiratory issues, among other uses. However, it's important to note that the safety and efficacy of using Dame's-violet for medicinal purposes have not been thoroughly studied and it's always best to consult a healthcare professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.

One of the best things about Dame's-violet is that it's easy to propagate and grow. Gardeners can simply divide the plant in spring or take cuttings in summer, and the plant will quickly establish itself and begin producing blooms the following year.

Dame's-violet is a beautiful, fragrant, and versatile plant that is well-suited to a wide range of gardening conditions. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this plant is a great option to add some beauty and fragrance to your garden.

In addition to its use in gardens and for medicinal purposes, Dame's-violet also has a rich cultural and historical significance. Throughout the ages, this plant has been associated with love, purity, and death. In ancient Greece, the plant was believed to have been created from the tears of the goddess Aphrodite and was often used as a symbol of love and devotion.

In medieval times, Dame's-violet was also used in funeral wreaths and was believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits. The plant's strong, sweet fragrance was also believed to have the ability to lift the spirits and bring comfort to those who were grieving.

Another interesting fact about Dame's-violet is that its leaves are edible and are sometimes used in salads or as a flavoring for soups and stews. The plant's leaves have a slightly bitter taste and are believed to have a positive effect on the digestive system.

Overall, Dame's-violet is a versatile and fascinating plant that has a rich history and cultural significance. Whether you're planting it in your garden, using it for medicinal purposes, or just admiring its beauty and fragrance, this plant is sure to bring joy and beauty to your life.

Aside from its cultural and historical significance, Dame's-violet is also known for its versatility in the garden. This plant can be used as a border plant, mass planting, or as a cut flower. When planted in mass, it creates a beautiful and fragrant ground cover, making it an excellent choice for a naturalized area or a woodland garden.

Dame's-violet also makes a great cut flower and can be used in bouquets and floral arrangements. The plant's long spikes of blooms are perfect for adding height and color to a bouquet, and the fragrance of the flowers will fill the room with a sweet and delicate aroma.

For gardeners looking for a low-maintenance plant that requires little care, Dame's-violet is an excellent option. The plant is not only beautiful but also quite easy to grow and maintain. Gardeners need only to cut back the plant after it has finished blooming to encourage a bushy growth habit, and it will continue to thrive with little additional care.

In addition to its many other benefits, Dame's-violet is also deer and rabbit resistant, making it a great choice for gardeners who have problems with these animals in their garden.

Dame's-violet is a must-have for any gardener who wants a beautiful, fragrant, and low-maintenance plant in their garden. With its versatility, cultural significance, and easy care, this plant is sure to bring joy and beauty to your life for many years to come.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Dame's-violet is also an important plant for wildlife in the garden. The plant's flowers provide an important source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths, and its seeds are a valuable food source for birds.

In addition to its role as a food source for wildlife, Dame's-violet is also an important plant for beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on aphids and other pests in the garden.

Gardening for wildlife is an important part of creating a healthy and sustainable ecosystem, and Dame's-violet is a great plant to consider if you're looking to support pollinators and beneficial insects in your garden.

In conclusion, Dame's-violet is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a beautiful, fragrant, and low-maintenance plant that also supports wildlife in the garden. Whether you're planting it for its beauty, fragrance, or to support wildlife, Dame's-violet is sure to bring joy and beauty to your garden for many years to come.

30 Dame's-violet Facts

Dame's-violet, also known as Hesperis matronalis, is a fascinating plant with several interesting facts:

  1. Biennial Beauty: Dame's-violet is a biennial plant, meaning it completes its life cycle in two years.
  2. Belongs to the Mustard Family: It is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and mustard.
  3. Fragrant Flowers: The flowers of Dame's-violet are known for their sweet, fragrant scent, especially in the evening.
  4. Native to Eurasia: Originally native to Eurasia, Dame's-violet has been introduced and cultivated in various parts of North America.
  5. Naturalized in North America: It has become naturalized in many areas of North America and is often found in meadows and along roadsides.
  6. Pink to Purple Blooms: The flowers range in color from pink to purple and have four petals arranged in a cross-like pattern.
  7. Attracts Pollinators: Dame's-violet attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies with its fragrant blooms.
  8. Edible Leaves: The young leaves of Dame's-violet are edible and can be added to salads, providing a mild peppery flavor.
  9. Used in Traditional Medicine: Historically, some cultures have used Dame's-violet for its medicinal properties, such as treating skin conditions.
  10. Easy to Grow: It is relatively easy to grow and is often cultivated for its ornamental value in gardens.
  11. Adaptable to Various Soils: Dame's-violet can thrive in a variety of soil types, making it adaptable to different environments.
  12. Tolerant of Shade: This plant can tolerate partial shade, making it suitable for shaded areas in gardens.
  13. Self-Seeding: Dame's-violet is known for self-seeding, allowing it to spread naturally in favorable conditions.
  14. Blooms in Late Spring to Early Summer: The flowering period typically occurs in late spring to early summer, adding color to the landscape.
  15. Long Flowering Stems: The flowering stems can grow relatively tall, creating an impressive visual display in garden settings.
  16. Resistant to Deer: It is often considered deer-resistant, making it a good choice for gardens where deer are a common issue.
  17. Cultural Symbolism: In some cultures, Dame's-violet is associated with various symbolic meanings, including love and romance.
  18. Herbaceous Perennial in Some Regions: While often considered a biennial, in milder climates, Dame's-violet may behave as a herbaceous perennial.
  19. Allelopathic Properties: Some studies suggest that Dame's-violet may exhibit allelopathic properties, inhibiting the growth of nearby competing plants.
  20. Commonly Used in Cottage Gardens: Due to its charming appearance and sweet fragrance, Dame's-violet is a popular choice in cottage gardens.
  21. Seed Pods: After flowering, Dame's-violet produces slender seed pods that add visual interest to the plant.
  22. Easy to Propagate: Propagation can be done through seeds, and the plant readily self-sows, making it easy to establish in new areas.
  23. Named After Hesperus: The genus name "Hesperis" is derived from the Greek word for evening, possibly referencing the plant's fragrant evening blooms.
  24. Biological Control: In some regions, Dame's-violet has been studied for its potential as a biological control agent against certain insect pests.
  25. Historical Cultivation: It has a history of cultivation for both ornamental and practical purposes, such as for its fragrance and use in potpourri.
  26. Traditional Use in Perfumery: The sweet scent of Dame's-violet has led to its historical use in perfumery and scented sachets.
  27. Environmental Indicator: In certain ecosystems, Dame's-violet presence can indicate specific soil and environmental conditions.
  28. Culinary Uses: Besides the young leaves, some people use the flowers of Dame's-violet as an edible garnish or in desserts.
  29. Non-Invasive: While it self-seeds, Dame's-violet is generally considered non-invasive and doesn't aggressively spread beyond garden borders.
  30. Named After the Goddess Matrona: The species name "matronalis" is derived from the Latin word for "matron" or "married woman," possibly referring to the plant's association with the Roman goddess Matrona.


Dame's-violet filmed at Silverdale, Lancashire on the 27th May 2023.


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Distribution Map

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