Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Known by many names, including honesty, silver-dollar plant and moneywort, this European native is decorative in both spring and fall. Right now, it is topped by handsome, purple flowers and these will turn into silvery-white, papery discs by late summer.
It’s these transparent seedpods that give rise to the common names: honesty for their clarity and the references to money because of their coin-like appearance. The genus name (Lunaria) alludes to their similarity to a full moon.
Despite its specific epithet (annua), this pretty plant is actually biennial, meaning that it takes two growing seasons to reach maturity.
It grows in clusters along the Shade Border and in the Wild Garden, where it is represented by a selection with white flowers and another with variegated foliage. In the first shot above—both were taken along the Shade Border—the lavender blossoms of Lunaria annua create a rich carpet of color with Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells).