If you are enjoying the great outdoors in North Dakota, many wildflowers are on display this time of year.  While they may add to the majesty and beauty of the state, some are not quite as beautiful as they foretell.

One of those is a mysterious purple flower that looks nearly identical to phlox called Dame's Rocket

What are phlox?

The robust, long-lasting garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) has a charming romantic appearance. Large clusters of fragrant flowers in a stunning array of colors, including white, pink, fuchsia, red, lavender, purple, and orange, as well as numerous striking bicolors, adorn the tops of these robust, erect plants from midsummer to early fall. The fragrant, high-nectar blooms are lovely in summer floral arrangements and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

A few characteristics of Dames Rocket, the purple flower in North Dakota and the Mid-West:

  • The smell of the flowers are purely amazing!
  • The flower features 4 petals.
  • You can find the flower in a variety of different colors: white, light purple, and darker purple

Why isn't this purple flower a phlox?

According to ourwaterways.org, phlox looks similar to the mystery purple flower but one of the biggest differences is that the petals on a phlox have a total of 5.

attachment-Untitled design - 2024-05-29T123716.122

while the invasive faux phlox has four petals...



Is dames rocket an invasive plant in North Dakota and other states?

Although this gorgeous purple flower is making me smile, it is also one that needs to be removed.  Unfortunately, Dames Rocket.

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Are These Purple Flowers Actually Dangerous?

The purple flowers might be lovely to look at but if you are out on a walk or trying to pull these out of areas, be sure to use gloves.  Individuals with sensitive skin can see irritation from contact.  And, if you are walking through the woods with your dog or on a path where Dames Rocket is encroaching, this plant is also toxic for our canine friends.

How do I control Dames Rocket?


Herbicides used for mustard control in cropland, such as MCPA and 2,4-D, will kill Dame’s rocket and can be used in wooded areas as long as the herbicide is not applied to the tree bark. Glyphosate will kill Dame’s rocket and is best applied to rosettes in the fall to lessen damage to nearby vegetation. Typical pasture and rangeland control herbicides such as Tordon (picloram), dicamba (various), Milestone (aminopyralid), and Transline (clopyralid) will not control this weed.


Hand-pulling or digging Dame’s rocket is an effective control measure. Seeds remain in the soil for several years, so sites should be revisited each year to keep the plant from reestablishing.


No biological control agents or pathogens are available for this weed.

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