Lunaria annua, also known as common honesty, honesty, money plant, garden honesty, moonwort, or silver dollar plant, is a fast-growing biennial plant native to southwest Asia and the Balkans, but which has spread and naturalized in regions with a temperate climate. It is a member of the brassica family and closely related to cabbages.
Honesty thrives in moist, fertile, well-drained soil. It can grow in partial shade or full sun. However, it produces more flowers in the sun compared to in the shade. In the language of flowers, moonwort represents sincerity, money, and honesty.
The plant’s Latin name, lunaria, means moon-shaped, in reference to its fruit, while the name honesty seems to be related to the translucency of the seed pods. Silver dollar has a hairy stem with medium green leaves resembling a heart or oval-shaped. They also feature pointed, serrated tips.
Garden honesty is commonly found in old-fashioned cottage gardens but some have escaped from gardens and thrive in the wild. Today, it is common to find common honesty growing along footpaths, in hedgerows, and abandoned fields. Unlike most flowering plants, the plant is more popular for its seeds compared to its flowers.
Moonwort produces flat, papery, translucent pods which enclose dark seeds. The seeds are commonly used in dried floral arrangements while still in their pods. Alternatively, the pods are left on the plant to add aesthetic appeal to gardens in the winter.
Common honesty flowers in spring or early summer. The flowers are highly attractive and often used in the cut flower industry. Their sweet scent also attracts insects to pollinate the flowers.
The flowers have four petals and come in various shades, depending on the cultivar, ranging from white to purple. Garden honesty is highly popular among gardeners because it is hardy, requires watering only once a week, and is a multipurpose plant.
Moonwort’s leaves, flowers, and seeds are edible. The leaves are collected especially when tender and cooked as green vegetables. Alternatively, they can be used in salads.
The flowers can also be eaten as vegetable greens, added to salads, or used for garnishing. Moonwort’s leaves and flowers have a cabbage-like taste. The seeds can be used as a mustard substitute and taste like mustard.
If you love multi-purpose floral plants and you happen to be a lazy gardener who prefers plants that are not fussy, common honesty is the plant you need to have in your garden.