Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rockets, and more Rockets!

Rockets, and more Rockets! Some invasive species make you go crazy, while others can charm you with their beauty. Dame's Rocket is currently in bloom. Colors of nearly white, to pinks, to purples can brighten up fields, and woodlands. I would always look forward to seeing this biennial make its' annual May appearance in a field near a forest preserve on 31st St. near Western Springs. I had no idea that they were crowding out a lot of natives. Even well meaning people putting in prairies have put this in the mix for their beauty, only to later discover their 'darker' side, and would have to begin to eradicate them. 
It's easy to understand why we like them. They are beautiful, colorful, tall, and remind us of their doppelgänger in our gardens: Phlox. But, they are not nearly as well behaved. It's easy to confuse Dame's Rocket with Phlox, and even Wild Phlox. Here is a very simple way to figure out what you are looking at: Phlox, has 5 letters...and 5 Petals.
Dame, has 4 letters...and 4 Petals.
Dame's Rocket blooms in May with that other bothersome plant, Garlic Mustard. Phlox, and Wild Phlox will bloom later in the summer.
Another plant with 'Rocket' in its' name also blooming right now is Yellow Rocket. Both Dame's Rocket, and Yellow Rocket are in the Mustard family!

Patch of Dame's Rocket at Churchill Woods Forest Preserve.

Notice the 4 Petals.

A darker purple one getting ready to unfold its' bud to bloom.

Dame's Rocket blossoms.

That's me walking through a field of Dame's Rocket along a trail at Fabian Forest Preserve in Batavia, IL.

Yellow Rocket

Yellow Rocket blossoms.

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