Wild Phlox

Their pervasive fragrance and gaudy color suggests an overdressed matron wearing too much cheap perfume, as these plants often become too much in the landscape.

Dick Young

Kane County Wild Plants & Natural Areas

dame's rocket Dick Young was referring to Dame’s Rocket (Hesperus matronalis) in bloom now along partially shaded roadsides, railroad tracks, and other waste places.    Commonly called “Wild Phlox” because of its resemblance from a distance to Garden Phlox, but its 4-petaled flowers identify it as a member of the mustard family rather than the Phlox family that has 5-petaled flowers.  It was introduced from Europe into American gardens  in the 17th century and has since escaped cultivation.   It forms large, conspicuous colonies in bloom in late May and early June.  A biennial,  it will flower, produce seed–lots of seed–, and die by midsummer.  The seed germinates easily, producing a rosette the first year and flowers the 2nd year.

dame's rocket 2 . Although it is not yet a large-scale invasive, it can spread rapidly from seed and form dense patches. Its impacts are not yet well known; in fact, it is not yet widely recognized as an invasive species in the Midwest.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared it a noxious weed. Three states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Colorado  have banned it.

Does it displace native plants?  The only areas where I  see it growing in the wild  is along country roads and railroad tracks; the native plants have long-since been displaced by other invasives.  In Forest Preserves and private property, it should be prevented from going to seed by cutting the spent flowers off, which may have to be done more than once. It’s prolific seeding habit gives it the potential to be another Garlic Mustard.

Beware!  Dame’s Rocket seed is frequently included in “Meadow in a Can” along with other Eurasian biennials.  Avoid this altogether.








6 Responses to Wild Phlox

  1. Judy Fisbhrun May 26, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    Wow – that invasive started a really – really – really – really long time ago!
    They were growing when I was a child!

  2. Jason May 26, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    Though it’s hard for a plant to have too strong a sweet fragrance for me, I pull this plant when I see it.

  3. linda bailey May 27, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    I have been seeing white flowering plants by the roadside this spring that look like Queen Anne’s Lace but it’s too early for that I think. I’ve not been able to see them up close.

  4. linda bailey May 27, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    I’ve recently seen a white flowering plant in the country by the road side that looks similar to Queen Ann’s Lace. I’v not been able to see it up close but isn’t it too early for QAL? do you know what I mean?

  5. Linda Bailey May 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    I’ve recently noticed a white flowering plant in the country by the roadside and it looks like Queen Ann’s Lace. Isn’t it too early for that too bloom? Do you know what I mean? thanks for your help.

  6. Frank Lawrence May 29, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Its more widespread in DeKalb and Kendal counties as well as in the nature preserve I’m a volunteer steward at. I have workdays every year just to pull this pretty weed

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