© Copyright: Images: Jouko Lehmuskallio.
All rights reserved.

Dame's Violet

Hesperis matronalis

  • Name also: Dame’s-violet, Dame’s Rocket, Damask Violet, Dames-wort, Dame’s Gilliflower, Night Scented Gilliflower, Queen’s Gilliflower, Rogue’s Gilliflower, Summer Lilac, Sweet Rocket, Mother-of-the-evening, Winter Gilliflower
  • Family: Mustard Family – Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
  • Growing form: Perennial (sometimes biennial) herb.
  • Height: 40–80 cm (16–32 in.). Stem usually unbranched until inflorescence, roughly haired.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), purple–red–white, approx. 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) wide; petals 4, approx. 15 mm (0.6 in.) long. Sepals 4. Stamens 6, of which 2 short and 4 long. Gynoecium fused, a single carpel. Inflorescence a raceme, extending in fruiting stage. Flowers with pleasant fragrance.
  • Leaves: Alternate, short-stalked. Basal leaf-blades ovate, usually with serrated margin, usually hairy, stem leaf-blades ovate–lanceolate, with tapering tip, occasionally with toothed margins.
  • Fruit: Many-seeded, slightly curved, almost cylindrical, slightly constricted between seeds, 7–10 cm long, spreading siliqua. Stalk approx. 1.5 cm (0.6 in.).
  • Habitat: Yards, gardens, gardens, beneath bushes, urban woods, broad-leaved forests, waste ground, rubbish tips. Ornamental, left-over and escape from old gardens.
  • Flowering time: June–August.

Dame’s violet is originally native to Eurasia, which is a lot further south than Finland, but it is from high altitudes and so can thrive in Finland too. It has been cultivated since the 17th century at least. Dame’s violet was used to a certain extent medicinally and to make oil, but mainly it was grown for its beauty as an ornamental.

Dame’s violet belonged to the gentry among native perennials, and there is no need to cast it aside today because it blooms unbelievably abundantly for a long time. It looks most impressive in large groups. Dame’s violet’s genus’s scientific name comes from the Greek word hesperia which means “evening”, as that is the time that its flowers open and emit their strong and violet-like fragrance. Potential pollinators cannot resist the fragrance, and it is very pleasing to people too, so it is worth planting near a window to be enjoyed to the full on warm summer evenings. Dame’s violet is especially favoured by moths e.g. owlet-moths and hawkmoths, which can be heard humming around the stands after twilight has fallen.

Dame’s violet is self-seeding and thrives on its own and spreads swiftly to open areas in gardens and to green forests and hedgerows. Escapes can mainly be found around areas with houses and gardens and allotments. It is most common in south-western mainland Finland and it grows in a number of places in southern Häme. The most northern escapes are in central Finland, although it grows further north along the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia than it does inland.

Other species from the same family

Follow us!

Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page