“Around this time every year, we hear from many plant-lovers wanting that “pink-purple PHLOX that has suddenly appeared along their roadside or woodland edge”. Commonly mistaken for native phlox, these plants actually are Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), a non-native, very invasive member of the Mustard family.
This illustration shows the major differences in Dame’s Rocket and Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).
MUSTARDS like Dame’s Rocket have FOUR petals while native PHLOX have FIVE petals. Dame’s Rocket has ALTERNATE leaves and Phlox has OPPOSITE leaves.Imported from Eurasia in the 1600s, Dame’s Rocket, like most introduced invasive plants, lacks natural predators and diseases in North America. It thrives in most environments and is a prolific self-seeder and fast-grower. It can enter waterways, quickly overtaking native plant communities as it successfully competes for light and moisture.
Its recent spread has been accelerated by its inclusion in “wildflower” seed mixes sold commercially. Beware of nurseries that sell this so-called “wild phlox.” Whenever you can, please help to eradicate non-native invasive species and replace them with native species. We can each do our part to protect the integrity of our local environment! Here are the phlox species from Prairie Moon
NOTE: During 2018, Prairie Moon Nursery is including a free packet of Bergamot (Monarda fistulos) seed with each retail order. Details.
Thanks, Julia Lundmark Vanatta for bringing this post to my attention. Great illustration! Dame’s Rocket appears on 46 states’ noxious weed lists.