Have you noticed the gorgeous purple flowers that are popping up in ditches and by yards in Southeast Minnesota?  Do you know what they are?  I live just outside of Rochester and I have a ton on my acreage.  I know we aren't the only state with these flowers though because I was in Madison, Wisconsin last weekend and the purple was following me the entire time.  If you are thinking these are phlox...they aren't.


What are the purple flowers that are growing in ditches in Minnesota and Wisconsin?

We have a few acres of land and unfortunately, our mower broke a few weeks ago so it looks like a jungle. (Sorry to all of our neighbors...the mower is supposed to be fixed tomorrow!).  Because we haven't trimmed our grass in forever, we have purple flowers popping up EVERYWHERE!  My kid was needing an adventure today so I had him go for a little hike to the back of our property to take a few photos of the purple flowers so we could figure out what this plant actually is.

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams

A few characteristics of this flower:

  • It has 4 petals on a flower
  • The flowers smell amazing!
  • There are a bunch of different colors - white, light purple, darker purple

Phlox look very similar however, according to ourwaterways.org, phlox has 5 petals on a flower.

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams

After doing a little research on Google and Wikipedia, I learned that this flower has a variety of names including:

  • dames rocket
  • damask-violet,
  • dame's-violet,
  • dames-wort,
  • dame's gilliflower,
  • night-scented gilliflower,
  • queen's gilliflower,
  • rogue's gilliflower,
  • summer lilac,
  • sweet rocket,
  • mother-of-the-evening,
  • Good & Plenties,
  • and winter gilliflower.

Is dames rocket an invasive plant in Minnesota and Wisconsin?

I know I've seen a few people stating that the purple flowers are invasive and not to plant them.  As far as Minnesota, so far, I can't find anything that indicates they are listed as an invasive plant for our state.  However, on Wikipedia, Wisconsin doesn't seem to be a big fan of this purple-flowered plant:

In Wisconsin, it is classed as restricted, i.e. an invasive species that is already widely established in the state, and causes, or has the potential to cause significant environmental or economic harm.

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