Lunaria annua
Common Name: annual honesty
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Brassicaceae
Native Range: Central and southern Europe
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in moist, organically rich, garden soils in full sun to part shade. Full sun is appropriate in northern areas, but plants appreciate some afternoon shade in the St. Louis area. Although biennial, this plant freely self-seeds in the garden, and once established, will never disappear. Sow seeds outdoors in spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Plants produce only foliage the first year, but bloom and fruit the second year before dying. In USDA Zones 8-10, seed may be sown in fall and plants will flower and seed the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lunaria annua, commonly called silver dollar, dollar plant, money plant, moonwort, honesty and lunaria, is a tall, hairy-stemmed biennial that is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It has been widely planted in North America, and over time has escaped gardens and naturalized in many parts of the U. S. and southern Canada. Plants grow to 2-3’ tall clad with alternate to opposite, oval to heart-shaped, serrated, medium green leaves that are pointed at the tip. Upper leaves are sessile. Racemes of 4-petaled purple flowers (to 1/2” across) bloom above the foliage in spring (April-May). Flowers give way in mid-summer to sprays of flattened, paper-thin, silver-dollar sized fruit (silicles to 2” wide) which become translucent with maturity. As the common name suggests, the fruits are the most noteworthy ornamental feature of this plant. Hortus Third describes a fruit as “a flat, oblong-elliptic to nearly orbicular silicle with satiny, paper-white septum.” Fruit-laden stems are valued for dried arrangements. Remove stems from the garden just as the green fruit color disappears and bring them inside for hanging upside down to dry. Lunaria annua var. alba features white flowers.

Genus name comes from the Latin word luna meaning the moon for the flat rounded seed-vessel suggesting the full moon.

Specific epithet means annual.

Problems

No known serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot and stem canker may occur.

Garden Uses

Borders. Open woodlands. Naturalized areas. Shade gardens. Cutting garden. Excellent for dried flower arrangements.