A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Lunaria annua

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.

Lunaria-and-bluebells

Despite its specific epithet (annua), this pretty plant is actually biennial, meaning that it takes two growing seasons to reach maturity.

along-the-Shade-Border

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).

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