‘Honesty’- A Double Bounty

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”William Shakespeare, [All’s Well That Ends Well.]

Lunaria (Common name “Honesty”)

The ‘Honesty’ to which I refer is not that distinguishing quality which insists that all things be dealt with in a morally correct fashion; rather I am alluding to that living organism of the kind exemplified by plant life in the form of ‘Lunaria’.

There are not so many of our plants which offer multiple visionary benefits to gardeners and plant lovers; but Lunaria (Latin meaning “moon-shaped”) and holding the more common name of “Honesty”, is most certainly one of these.

A simple European plant displaying purple or white flowers from mid-April to at least the end of May; ‘Honesty’ then gifts us with those round, flat, translucent seed pods, which can be used to brighten our indoor flower arrangements, over Christmas and through the dark winter months.

The plant’s common name ‘Honesty’ can be traced back to the 16th century, and the name possibly relates to its translucence seed-pods which resemble silver coinage.

The plant is known by many names. In South East Asia, the plant is called the “Money Plant” while in the USA it is known as “Silver Dollars” or “Chinese Coins”. In France it is recognised as Monnaie du Pape (“Pope’s money”), while in Denmark it is known as Judaspenge (meaning “Coins of Judas”), alluding to the bible story of Judas Iscariot. Latter was one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, who received thirty pieces of silver for betraying Him in the garden at Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. [St. Matthew Chapter 26: Verses 44-50]

This biennial plant is easy to grow from seed and is suitable for cultivation in a shady or dappled area, or in a wildflower garden. ‘Honesty’ bears white or vivid violet flowers, which as already stated, convert to light brown, translucent, disc-shaped seed-pods; the skin of which falls away to release its seeds. This action now reveals a central membrane, which in turn offers that silvery sheen and its double benefit as a plant which can be easily dried.

How to prepare ‘Honesty’ for dried flower arrangements

When the seed pods are fully ripened, grasp the plant near the root, taking care not to crush, then pull the Lunaria plant entirely out of the ground, (yes roots and all).

Wrap the chosen plants together with kitchen twine or a rubber band and hang the stems upside down in a dry, airy place for several weeks. Best also to wrap an outer cover of newspaper, loosely, around the plants to protect them from dust.

When fully dried spread a newspaper and carefully remove the skins from the seed-pods, to collect the large visible flat seed. This in turn will reveal the attractive central silvery membrane.

Of course same can also be sprayed any colour, using aerosol spray paints if so desired; remembering to hold the spray-can well back from the dried coin shaped seed-pods.


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