Annual Honesty (Lunaria annua)

Annual Honesty (Lunaria annua)

Although not nearly as showy this time of year, the remnant membranes from the seed pods are enough to identify annual honesty (Lunaria annua), which is also sometimes called money plant. Annual honesty is native to eastern Europe and western Asia. It was widely planted in North American gardens and over time has escaped and naturalized in many parts of the U. S. and southern Canada. It can now commonly be found throughout much of Massachusetts.

In the spring, the plant produces showy racemes of pinkish-violet four-petaled flowers held aloft on stems 2 to 3 feet tall, which give way to tan, disc-shaped seed pods by mid-summer. These seed pods contain two outer layers and a central membrane, between which the seeds develop. By January, however, the outer layers have fallen away, dispersing the seeds, leaving only the translucent central membrane attached to the stalks. The Latin name “lunaria” comes from “luna” meaning moon, referring moon-like appearance of these seedpods. The other common names, money plant or Chinese money plant reference the seed pods’ resemblance to coins.


 Drawing of annual honesty in my perpetual nature journal.

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