Dame’s Rocket – A Plant to Be Pulled

CWC volunteer Cathy Murray recently discovered and reported the presence of Dame’s Rocket at the Williams-Blackburn Preserve in Isabella County. While certainly not new to the county, this was the first reported presence of the invasive plant on a CWC  preserve. On June 6, 2016, a group of seven volunteers joined executive director on a mission to stop it in its tracks.

Dame’s Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, is a herbaceous plant species in the mustard family. Its sprinkling of pale lavender, deep purple and white blossoms blanket Michigan’s rural roadsides and, unfortunately, many parks this time of year. Its aroma? Heavenly. It lasts longer than most wildflowers when stuck in a jar of water, and it self-seeds freely. So what’s not to love?

As wildflowers go, it’s every bit as horrible as its relative, garlic mustard, or its other neighbors on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s noxious weed list. The ease with which it thrives allows it to compete with native plants for water, light and nutrients and crowd out — and eventually replace them.

Two hours of work by a dedicated group knocked it out of the Williams-Blackburn Preserve, at least temporarily. But it bears close watching. If you are interested in being a volunteer to search for and remove Dame’s Rocket or any other invasive species from the CWC preserves, why not send in a volunteer form and we’ll let you know when we are working again to keep the preserves clear.

We want to thank Cathy Murray, Mike LeValley, Joan Loveland, Eric Torgersen, Ruth Chapman and Deb and James Simmons for their help.