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Common Name: Sweet Rocket
Hesperis matronalis is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.75 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
S. Europe to Siberia. A garden escape in Britain, occasionally naturalized.
], meadows, hedges, grass verges etc, avoiding acid soils[
|Pollinators||Bees, Flies, Lepidoptera
Prefers a rich moist well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun or semi-shade[
]. Requires a neutral to alkaline soil[
]. Prefers an alkaline soil[
]. Tolerates poor soils[
]. Grows well in damp, shady or grassy places[
]. Established plants are drought resistant[
Plants are hardy to about -20°c[
A very ornamental plant[
], it is a short-lived perennial[
] and is often grown as a biennial.
A good bee, butterfly and moth plant, it is a specific food plant for the orange-tip butterfly[
]. The flowers are very aromatic with a clove-like fragrance, this is especially apparent in the evening[
]. They usually have very little scent during the day and thus obtained a reputation in folk-lore for deceit[
The plant is sometimes cultivated for the essential oil contained in its seed[
Young leaves - raw. Rich in vitamin C, they are used as a cress substitute in salads[
]. A rather bitter flavour, though many people like the extra tang it gives to salads[
]. For culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers[
The seed can be sprouted and added to salads[
The seed contains 50% of an edible oil - there is a potential for cultivation[
The leaves are antiscorbutic, diaphoretic and diuretic[
]. They are best harvested when the plant is in flower[
An essential oil from the seed is used in perfumery[
]. The plant is cultivated for this purpose.
Seed - sow spring in an outdoor seedbed and plant them out in late summer[
]. Germination should take place within 3 weeks.
The seed can also be sown in early spring in a warm greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring.
The seed can also be sown in July for planting out in the following spring.
Division. Plants are short-lived perennials, division may not be worthwhile.
Cuttings in summer 7cm long in a shady border[
]. Only done with named varieties being grown for ornament, it is not worthwhile otherwise.