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Honesty

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

The Latin name Lunaria means moon like and refers to the shape and appearance of the seedpods.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Honesty, Annual Honesty, Moonwort, Money Plant
Scientific Name Lunaria annua
Season Start Mar
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Ovate with a pointed end and marked serrations along the edge of the leaf.

Flowers

Purple or white cruciforme (cross shaped) flowers growing all over the tall stems.

Seeds

The fruit looks like silver pennies with a see-through membrane containing the seeds, these discs can over winter.

Habitat

Flower beds and naturalised along paths, field edges, hedgerows and waste ground.

Possible Confusion

Before the flowers appear in Spring it can be easy to confuse with several other species but after the white or purple flowers bloom the plant can be identified quite easily. When the flowers drop the seed pods appear and can stay on the plant throughout Summer, Autumn and Winter and again make this plant easy to identify.

Smell

When flowering the plant has a floral fragrance.

Taste

Honesty has a cabbage like taste in both the leaves and flowers.

The seeds taste like mustard.

Collecting

The leaves can be collected and used as a green vegetable or in salads before the flowers appear..

The flowers can be added to salads.

The seeds can be used to make a mustard substitute which is strengthened by crushing and mixing with cold water.

The root can be peeled and eaten.

Medicinal Uses

A fatty acid obtained from the seeds has been used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Other Facts

The dried seed pods are often used in flower arranging due to their silver, coin like appearance.
The beautiful seed pods used to be used by Victorians to paint intricate scenes on.

COMMENTS

21 comments for Honesty

  1. Melanie McTeer says:

    Can you eat the root raw or only cooked? Thank you.

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      You can eat it raw but I only ever eat the seeds from the penny’s on this one.

  2. Rhana says:

    So the seeds leaves and root can be eaten raw.

  3. PATRICIA MATTHEWS says:

    This plant has been growing in my veg patch since last year. I wasn’t sure what it was until the flowerheads started to appear this week. As I have no fresh veg left I will be eating this as it’s quite a big plant now. I had some primrose flowers in my lunch and dandelion leaves. Looking at the nettles next. Also have what looks like marjoram or oregano so will try that.

  4. Rosylee Lowe says:

    Does this plant come back each year?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Honesty usually comes up in the same place every year.

      1. Kate Vincent says:

        In my experience, Lunaria is a biennial meaning it comes up the first year and produces some leaves but remains low to the ground. If you don’t accidentally pull it out, the next year in early Spring it will start to grow up and flower. I find it lasts longer in part shade than full sun. It is not perennial so that plant will not come up again next year, but if allowed to drop seed it will come up again in the same area. If you want flowering plants every year instead of every other year, then you should save some seeds from the first year’s plant and then throw them down the following year when the new seedlings won’t be flowering that year.

  5. Annegret nicholas says:

    Is honesty a shade loving plant?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Honesty will grow in semi shade conditions.

  6. Himadri Sarkar says:

    Does it smell good..

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Honesty doesn’t have much of a smell but tastes cabbage like.

  7. Jessica says:

    I want to know more about victorians painting on the seeds. I can find no direct references, can you help?

  8. Alison Golding says:

    Hi, I was wondering if the leaves of the Honesty can ever be two toned. I have a similar plant that’s come up in my garden but the leaves are green and then purple graduating from around the middle to around the edges. Thank you.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Really not sure about that, do you have pictures you could send in?

  9. Judy says:

    One Came up quite unusually by itself. no other plants like it are anywhere in the neighborhood. There are actually three individual plants growing-together. It looked like one Beautiful plant in the spring time
    A friend thought that I had planted it and I thought she had planted it. We were surprised that neither of us had done this.
    Can I transplant one now to a sunnier location

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It’s worth a try although the seeds are easily gathered and planted where you would like the plant to grow next year. Honesty likes partial shade but is not overly fussy.

  10. IVOR HOWSE says:

    is honesty a perennial

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It will usually appear in the same place each year and try to spread given the chance.

    2. Kate Vincent says:

      No, it’s a biennial.

  11. Organic Gardens says:

    Lunaria is a biennial. So while it may grow in roughly the same area each year, that is likely because it is seeding itself. The first year plants don’t grow very tall. Second year plants flower in the Spring and mature into those characteristic silver dollars.

  12. Elizabeth Harwood says:

    The seed pod of the honesty plant always makes me think of “manna from heaven”. Has there been any correlation that anyone is aware of? I had a very tall one grow in my yard so I secured it in a container and use it as my Christmas tree. It’s beautiful.

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