rocket, in botany, popular name for several plants of the family Cruciferae (mustard family). The dame's, or damask, violet, damewort, or sweet rocket is Hesperis matronalis, a hardy, herbaceous Old World perennial with four-petaled flowers, ranging from white to purple, that are especially fragrant in the evening. It grows wild in many parts of North America, where it has escaped from gardens. Rocket salad ( Eruca sativa ) is the roquette of France and Italy and is a coarse, weedy plant with whitish or creamy-yellow flowers that have an orange-blossom odor. Also known as tira and garden rocket, it is cultivated for salads. Yellow rocket ( Barbarea vulgaris ) is the name for a variety of winter cress or upland cress, a weedy plant sometimes cultivated for salads. Among the North American wildflowers called rocket are the prairie-rocket ( Erysimum asperum ), the purple rocket ( Iodanthus pinnatifidus ), and the sea rocket ( Cakile edulenta ). The latter, like related European species, grows along seacoasts. The unrelated dyer's rocket, or dyer's-weed, is Reseda luteola, a species of mignonette. Rockets are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Capparales, family Cruciferae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.