Eagle County Weed of the Week: Dames Rocket
Eagle County CO, Colorado
For years Dames Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) was included in “wildflower” seed mixes and can be found throughout Eagle County in home landscapes and native areas. This plant is targeted by Eagle County’s municipal and county Noxious Weed Management Programs.
• Biennial or short lived perennial growing up to three-feet in height.
• Flowers are typically pinkish-purple to white with four petals, clustered in loose stalks at the tops of the stems.
• Leaves are lance shaped with finely-toothed margins.
• Has a shallow root system and reproduces by the large number of seeds that it produces.
• Prefers moist soils and shaded areas.
• Can be confused with our native Fireweed. However, Dame’s Rocket blooms from the top down in the spring while Fireweed blooms from the bottom up in the late summer into fall.
• Dame’s Rocket can be controlled by hand pulling the plant before it flowers or produces seed. Be sure to remove the flowers of Dame’s Rocket before they set seed and always dispose of plants in a plastic bag to prevent further spread.
• These measures must be repeated for several years to manage an infestation since Dame’s Rocket is such a prolific seeder.
• Dame’s Rocket is very susceptible to powdery mildew (which is a gray powdery fungus that grows on the leaf surface), and is almost always affected by it in the high country.
If you have this plant in your home landscape, remove it as soon as is practical. There are numerous replacement options including many species of native penstemons (Penstemon species), beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), and columbines (Aquilegea species) that can match its color and form.
Or call Eagle County Weed and Pest Department, 970-328-3540, town of Vail Department of Public Works 970-479-2158, or Eagle County Extension Office 970-328-8630
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