Lunaria annua

I’ve finally discovered the identity of the little clutch of seedlings under the smoke tree.


Lunaria annua, which I saw lining the pathways of *Western Hills, the former plant nursery in Occidental, California.

Western Hills photo by MB Maher.

I’ve been hoping to entice lunaria to naturalize and bloom with spring bulbs and Helleborus argutifolius, which also throws its seed around with wild abandon. A single Geranium maderense that bloomed last spring carpet-bombed the area with seedlings, so initially I mistook the lunaria for more late arrivals from the geranium. The lunaria’s seedlings also came from just a single plant, a variegated selection that bloomed under the smoke tree Grace this past spring. Rather than bring the transparent seedpods indoors for a vase, I tore them apart and shook them over the ground.

Photo found here.


Lunaria annua is a biennial known, strangely enough, as both Honesty and the Money Plant. Although not a rarity, still the possibility of getting a self-perpetuating colony going of this charming plant has me gleefully counting the little seedlings and moving them around to shady areas of the garden, which are admittedly few. The translucent seedpods or “coins” are an old-timey, dried flower favorite. If I’d taken a moment’s care, peeling back the membrane would have revealed the three flat seeds encased in each pod. Carol Klein discusses history and propagation here.

And in another lunaria triumph, seeds of the perennial Lunaria rediviva have also germinated. Source of these seeds was Derry Watkins.

Annie’s Annuals & Perennials is a mail order source of Lunaria annua, including the dark-leaved selection ‘Rosemary Verey.’

(*NB: In an update on this post on Western Hills, Chris and Tim Szybalski of Berkeley’s Westbrae Nursery have since become its new owners and will be preserving the garden.)

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6 Responses to Lunaria annua

  1. Scott Weber says:

    I love these old-fashioned self-sowers…whenever I see them in gardens around town, it gives me a little thrill…there is something wonderfully charming about them 🙂

  2. Denise says:

    Scott, I bet lunaria gets really rambunctious in the PNW!

  3. Clive says:

    I was always told that it got its name honesty from the fact that it will only grow where honest people live, so you are obviously now an honest person! nature says so!

  4. Denise says:

    Clive, and we know nature doesn’t lie! In checking your blog I find you’ve met Ms. Klein recently, and in your own garden! I look forward to catching up with your blog this weekend.

  5. Grace says:

    Hi Denise, I have a Geranium maderense. I purchased from Annie’s again this year. I grew it two summers ago and mistakenly left it out doors when that blankety-blank cold snap bombed us. This winter I will rescue its pot and bring it indoors should we get another freeze. I’ve yet to have it bloom and all the photos are so enticing. Good luck with your Lunaria. Don’t those little seedlings make you giddy?

  6. Denise says:

    Grace, if you need any G. maderense in spring, let me know!

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