Monday, June 5, 2017

Dame’s Rocket vs. Phlox

Erika and I find Dame’s Rocket every spring in the Carleton College arboretum. Dame’s Rocket is an abundant, four-peteled member of the mustard family. Dame’s Rocket is considered to be an invasive species, having been introduced to North America in the 17th century. This weed tends to displace native species. Many sources warn against planting it in gardens or roadsides.

Sometimes people confuse Dame’s Rocket with phlox, which has five petals. On a recent bike ride on 1 June 2017, along the Cannon Valley Trail, we found two species of phlox. I have been playing with a free phone app called Pl@ntNet. Take a photo of a plant and the app identifies it for you. We give the app a solid B in plant identification. Not too bad in the classroom, and, I suppose, better than nothing. We found Wild Blue Phlox, Phlox divaricata, (left) in shady areas, while the brighter pink Downy (or Prairie) Phlox, Phlox pilosa grew in the full sunlight.

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