Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Roadside Rogue

Bright colors and sweet scents appear in late May with the blooming of Dame’s Rocket, a roadside rogue enjoyable around the clock.

By day, the pink, violet and white flowers light up shady woodsides and by evening, their sweet scent spreads across the landscape. It is, in fact, an evening flower, with scent and colors designed to attract night-flying moths rather than day-flying bees – hence its name, Hesperis matronalis, which can be translated matrons of the evening.

And it may have been matrons who brought this mustard from Europe to America to fill their gardens in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Some, especially Germans, even added its sharp-tasting leaves to their salads.

Dame’s Rocket found the New World to its liking and, like many another weed, has been spreading along roadsides. But unlike most weeds, it offers beauty to the eye, sweetness to the nose, and tastiness to the tongue.

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