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Honest-to-God Honesty

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Violet-coloured Flowers in the Shape of a Cross

Violet-coloured Flowers in the Shape of a Cross

What is Honesty?

The Bible has a lot to say about honesty, in fact someone has counted that there are one hundred and seventy four verses about honesty in the Bible, so it must be important. A definition of honesty would include such human virtues or qualities as integrity, truthfulness and sincerity. The phrase "Honest-to-God" is often spoken; it is an informal way of saying that someone or something is real and genuine.

However, there is another definition of honesty. It is one of the common names of a plant that belongs to the Family Brassicacaea, although it is also classified in the Family Cruciferae; the names are synonymous. The Genus is Lunaria and the Species include the Annua.

  • Family Brassicacaea tells us that it is part of the cabbage family.
  • Family Cruciferae: It is a flowering plant and the flower has four petals in the shape of a Cross.
  • Genus Lunaria: The seed-pods are moon-shaped. Actually they are more oval than round.
  • Species Annua: Some species of Lunaria are annuals, but other species are biennials, that is, they grow in their first year and flower in their second year.
Coin-shaped Green Pod Among Some Already Drying

Coin-shaped Green Pod Among Some Already Drying

Lunaria Honesty

Lunaria has acquired a number of different common names in a variety of countries. In many English-speaking countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, the plant is known as Honesty as the replum of the seed-pods are translucent. The shape of the seed-case has led it to be named Moonwort in some places and as the shape also resembles a coin it is also called Money Plant. In the same vein, because of the semi-transparent shimmer of the replum, it is known as the Silver Dollar in parts of the USA.

Lunaria has inspired Biblical reference again in both Denmark and the Netherlands where it is known as Coins of Judas, as it is very prolific in its production of seed-cases. This refers to Judas Iscariot who was paid thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal of Jesus.

Golden-Brown Seed Pod With Seeds Visible Inside

Golden-Brown Seed Pod With Seeds Visible Inside

The Story of Honesty

Lunaria is native to the Balkans, South-east Europe and South-west Asia. It has now been naturalised in many temperate countries, especially in Europe, North America and Australia.

Lunaria was given the common name of Honesty in Britain in the sixteenth century and its old-fashioned charm ensures that it continues to be a favourite in cottage gardens and flower beds, both for its flowers and for the seed-cases which remain for some time after the flowers are gone, probably for most of the winter, depending on the situation.

Growing Honesty

Easy to Grow: Honesty is a low maintenance plant that is not fussy about the type of soil where it is planted. It will grow in shady, part-sun or in full sun areas, but flowers best if it has about five to six hours of sun a day. It is drought tolerant and easy to grow. It attracts butterflies and usually has few insect problems.

Biennial: Although the name, Lunaria Annua suggests that it is an annual, it is best grown as a biennial. However, if it is planted early in some situations smaller plants will flower, but not as well as they will in their second year.


  • The seeds can be planted directly into garden beds, borders or containers, although the latter need to be fairly large; like other brassicacaea it has deep taproots. Sow early in the season and cover with a light sprinkling of soil. The plants will grow well in the first year.
  • By the second year they will be around two to three feet tall and about one foot wide. Racimes of numerous small cross-shaped flowers will appear from late spring to summer. Different species produce violet, pale reddish-purple or white flowers.
  • At first the seed-cases are green and these gradually dry off and turn a golden-brown colour before splitting open.
  • Honesty produces flowers at the same time as iris so they make good companion plants as the colours blend and the seed-cases provide longer interest in the garden.
  • If you want blooms each year, plant seeds in two successive years and that will usually be sufficient as the plants self-seed and are quite prolific.
The Large, Heart-shaped Seeds

The Large, Heart-shaped Seeds

Uses of Honesty

The uses of honesty are quite varied, both for the gardener and in other ways.

For the Gardener:

  • If left in the garden, when the seeds have been shed the shimmering replum adds interest to the winter garden.
  • They make a great addition to dried flower arrangements in the home over winter. Cut the stems close to the ground. If the seed-cases are not split open it is quite easy to do this. The seed capsules, or siliques, are made up of three layers, the two outer walls, or valves, of the ovary and the inner replum to which the seeds are attached. Slide off the outer walls, gently remove the seeds (save them for planting next season) and you are left with the shiny replum.

Other Uses:

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  • Industry: Research has found that 30 - 40% of the oil is rich in long chain fatty acids; this is potentially suitable for lubricants and engineering nylons.
  • Pharmaceutical Investigation: Research is looking at the potential value of the oil in combating Multiple Sclerosis.
The Translucent Judas Coins that are Left

The Translucent Judas Coins that are Left

Gardens and Gardening

  • A Small Unit Garden: some ideas
    A surprising number of vegetable can be planted in pots and tubs in a small garden. Even when the space is restricted a small Worm Farm can be very beneficial. Discusses how to care for the worms.
  • Fascinating Topiary
    The ancient art of topiary goes back to the time of Julius Caesar. Over the centuries it has gone in and out of fashion and has evolved in many countries around the world. With the advent of topiary frames more and more exotic shapes can be used.
  • How to Design a Children's Garden
    Some useful points to observe when designing a children's garden are space, purpose, age, budget and design. A children's garden may be designed for a space as small as a window-sill or a large area; you need to know your purpose in designing it.
  • How to Choose Plants for Container Gardens
    How to choose plants for container gardens discusses the need for good planning before commencing such a project. The choice of decorative plants for growing in containers indoors and outdoors and of edible plants for indoors and outdoors.
  • Caterpillars, grubs, maggots and weevils
    A brief verse, for the Poem a Day challenge for April, and also a look at some types of insects and how they affect our daily lives.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on September 02, 2013:

rdsparrowriter: God and nature that He created do go together in our thoughts, don't they? God bless you and thank you for your lovely comments.

Ericdierker: I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 02, 2013:


Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on September 01, 2013:

Wow Blossom, I learnt something interesting and it's great how you relate the nature and God together in your writings .. just lovely.. giving glory to God :)

God bless you always!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on February 07, 2013:

Rolly A Chabot: Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. He is indeed an amazing God. We are so blessed.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on February 07, 2013:

Hi Blossom... what a great hub and for the avid gardner this would be a welcome addition to his array of plants and the knowledge you have collected here. Thank you for the hard work and the wonderful pictures. God is so amazing with His design of our worlds.

Hugs and Blessings

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 23, 2013:

teaches12345: It's fun to give a surprise. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for your comments.

Lipnancy: How lovely that you found it interesting. There are so many small, surprising things that go to make up God's world. He is, indeed, a God of surprises.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on January 23, 2013:

Not what I was expecting. Very interesting information.

Dianna Mendez on January 22, 2013:

Very nice plants and thank you for giving some background on the variety and how to grow. I expected something different when I read the topic, very nice surprise.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 22, 2013:

Frank Atanacio: Ha! Thank you, HubFriend, and thank you for your vote, too.

greencha: It is. It will be great if it also has a medicinal use as well.

aviannovice: That was kind of snakeslane to reply, as I have no experience of it in OK, but it's OK here on hot days if it's in the shade.

snakeslane: Thank you so much for that advice for aviannovice.

The Dirt Farmer: It is a bit tricky with so many common names and yes, in the bathroom I have an arrangement of honesty and various grass seeds I've gathered and its glossy 'coins' look pretty.

Jill Spencer from United States on January 22, 2013:

At first, you had me stumped, and then I saw the pods: money plant! I like the name honesty much better. The dried pods are so pretty in arrangements.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on January 21, 2013:

aviannovice, I just read in a blog that someone in Oklahoma is growing Lunaria (in the shade). You could ask at a local nursery.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 21, 2013:

This sounds wonderful. Oklahoma can have high heat for a solid 30 days or more, perhaps 110 or more. Can this beautiful plant handle that?

greencha from UK on January 21, 2013:

Very interesting,a lovely flower,as you indicate it can be prolific.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 21, 2013:

Blossom honestly.. you really put this hub together just right..:) voted useful :)

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 21, 2013:

Ericdierker: A pleasure.

acaetnna: How lovely. Thank you.

carter06: Ha! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the share.

shiningirisheyes: Thank you, my HubFriend.

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on January 21, 2013:

Very interesting name with some unique uses besides lovely to look at.

Great write.

Mary from Cronulla NSW on January 20, 2013:

What a great lead in to an unsuspecting well written hub...well done Blossom...VUAI & shared...cheers

acaetnna from Guildford on January 20, 2013:

Totally brilliant and such incredible pictures too.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 20, 2013:

That is interesting. Thank you

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 20, 2013:

snakeslane: Yes, it is the oil from the seeds. It will certainly be wonderful if the researchers can find a cure for MS.

WillStarr: Thank you for your vote and faithful comments.

Jackie Lynnley: Money trees! I wish! That's interesting, though. The plant seems to have acquired so many different names and connotations.

always exploring: Yes, it is certainly grown in the US, mostly in the temperate zones, I think. It's a pleasure to share.

Michael-Milec: I agree. There is always so much more to learn about the wonderful world that our Father God has created.

Michael-Milec on January 20, 2013:

Hello blossomSB.

The beauty of, and an attraction to " Lunaria Honesty " provided by your pictorial writing , makes one ( me ) to be more appreciative of the Creator's gifts to the mankind.

Thank you for stimulating my willingness to learn.

God bless you.

Up & Beautiful.


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 20, 2013:

Oh i would love to plant this in my garden, it is so beautiful and the history is interesting. Will it grow in the US? ( Southern Il. ) Thank you for the share.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 20, 2013:

Great article and I love the money plant, well my mom always had these and called them money trees and so do I, now. Thanks for a great read! ^

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on January 20, 2013:

Another interesting Blossom article! Voted up.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on January 19, 2013:

Very nice photos and description of Lunaria Blossom. The purple flowers are so vivid and beautiful, and the seed pods are a bonus. Is it the oil from the seeds that is being extracted? Interesting research on possible cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Wow! Regards, snakeslane

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