Monday, 13 May 2013

Honesty

Lunaria - honesty is a plant that unexpectedly arrived in the garden, and which now nestles snuggly and happily in the bottom of the hedgerow where it positively glows. 
A cheeky little Honesty fairy by Margaret Tarrant - illustrator - shaking the seeds out of their pods. 
You can eat the seeds, which are mustard like, the root apparently can be eaten raw or boiled, and it is possible to sprinkle the flowers on salads.
Lunaria - "moon shaped" comes from these showy translucent disc-shaped seedpods with a silvery sheen. If they are left unpicked they remain on the plant throughout the winter.
Honesty is native to the Balkans and south west Asia, it is now naturalised throughout the temperate world. In south east Asia it is called the money plant and in the USA it is commonly known as silver dollars, Chinese money or Chinese coins. In Denmark it is known as judaspenge and in the Netherlands as judaspenning - coins of Judas, as an allusion to the story of Judas Iscariot and the thirty pieces of silver he was paid for betraying Christ.

54 comments:

  1. Very pretty in the garden. Known as Honesty here in Tasmania and it's like a weed in some gardens.

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    1. As long as it stays living in the bottom of the hedgerow I am happy, so far it has not spilled out from that territory.

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  2. Love this plant! It's indeed called Judaspenning here. I remember when we were little we loved the round silvery seedpods of the plant. I had wondered about a plant that appeared in our garden for the first time this year. Is it a weed, should I pull it out, I do love its flowers.... Now I realize it's Judaspenning! I didn't know the flowers looked like that, only knew it in the 'seedpod stage'. So thank you very much for the informative post and for clearing things up for me! I had taken some pictures and was going to write a post about it to ask the blogging community what this plant could be but now I already know. Thanks!
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - the Honesty plant seems to have loved the winter and is popping up with its bright glow all over the place. It is not a problem in the garden as it is easily removed and doesn't go completely mad. Glad you have found the answer to your question.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, I had never associated those seedpods with the purple flowers. Are all your photos extreme close-ups? It is hard to get a sense of scale for the blossoms.

    The plant really looks like it belongs in the mustard family, so the peppery seeds come as no surprise.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - I can see that it would be difficult to get a sense of scale of the flower, and yes, they are macro photos. The flower is about 2½ cms across (1 inch).
      It is a member of the brassica family so you are correct.

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  4. How beautiful!
    I did not know the connection between these gorgeous flowers and the seedpods!

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    1. As long as the flowers are successfully pollinated then each flower will made a separate moon shaped seed head, so I am crossing my fingers that the bees have been fluttering around my plants.

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  5. Beautiful pictures Rosemary. We have honesty in the garden too. I was loathe to introduce it at first but much like the Forget-me-not it so easy to pull them out where you don't want them early in the season leaving those that are in more favourable positions. The seed heads remind me of still life classes we had at school, I was fascinated by the transformation of flower to seed pod and would spend hours drawing them.

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    1. Dear Paul - we pull out forget-me-nots by the handful when they turn scraggy but they always return again each Spring looking fresh and pretty.
      The Honesty seed pods are really very interesting, it is surprising how the flowers produce such a large pretty pod. I like to watch them developing from a small green disc to the final product. They also look rather nice when the silver papery section has gone and you are left with skeletal discs.

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  6. I admit that all these informations were unknown to me. Perhaps I recognize the flower but I hear now of its uses or the legends around it. Anyway, your photos are exquisite and I think they valorized this humble flower.
    Warm regards! Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - the other evening I became aware of how brilliant the honesty colour is just as the light was fading in the sky. When I read about it I realised how many uses it had, and in fact we had some flowers on our salad at the weekend, they perked it up and looked very pretty.

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  7. Many flowers like this are growing in the wild, near our home. I always wanted Lunaria in my garden. Must find the time to colect some seeds ... Beautiful photos, Rosemary !

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    1. Although it now grows wild it is a good garden plant because it is easily controlled. It looks particularly nice if complimented by a lime green flower such as euphorbia.

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  8. Very nice, Rosemary. Pretty flower with awesome seedpods.

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    1. Years ago the seedpods were very popular for winter displays in the home - I think that I might revive the custom.

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  9. Beautiful photos - and how lovely to unexpectedly discover this flower tucked away in the hedgerow. I didn't know about eating it or the folklore; so I found this fascinating.

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    1. It is interesting that we have both been exploring edible plants etc at the same time.

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  10. I didn't know about the different names according to the country. I think I still like the name that I know this plant by - honesty. I used to love looking at the delightful little books with the Margaret Tarrant illustrations and memorising the verses about the flowers and the trees etc. The one for honesty is new to me, however.

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    1. I had great difficulty finding an illustration of Honesty via both Margaret Tarrant and Cicely Mary Barker, but eventually I struck gold.

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  11. Hello! I used to be crazy about Honesty (Lunaria, as the seed "pods" look like a full moon- as you pointed out. "Luna" in Italian means moon)and had a big vase full of the dry pods in my house, a long time ago, together with dried Physalis, which does have spectacul pods, too (Chinese Lanterns, very nice!)

    I love the image showing a fairy, shaking the pods, so the Lunaria seeds would come out. I love fairies, though as I child I was terrified of them, but also fascinated. My mum once told me there were tiny fairies inside her wardrobe, so I never went in there!

    Needless to say, I was so fascinated, I was often seen dressed up as a fairy. Did you know that Thumbolina ( Pollicina in Italian)married the King of Flower Fairies? They had a lovely wedding in a garden, bouncing from flower to flower. So nice!

    CIAO!

    ANNA
    xxx

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    1. Dear Anna - years ago I used to have the Honesty pods in the house during the winter along with Physalis as well, but then they went out of fashion. I am going to bring some in again this winter - retro is all the rage, so lets fill our vases with it again.
      Every little girl likes fairies, I loved Cicely Mary Barker's books of flower fairies and used to day dream of being one of them - my favourite was fairy columbine, and as soon as the flowers appear in the garden now I associate them with that time.
      Ciao♥

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  12. Dear Rosemary,very interesting post of the Honesty flower!Very beautiful photos and exellent shots!Hope you have a lovely week!
    Dimi..

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    1. Thanks Dimi - everything is looking particularly lovely and fresh in the gardens and countryside at the moment - hope all is well with you.

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  13. Hello Rosemary,

    I find the lunaria amazingly beautiful and fairylike Correct me if I'm wrong but they do belong to the Honesty plant, no?
    In any case they stole my heart

    I recently read on a magazine about eatable flowers- how exciting!- and I am planing to taste a few of those this summer ;)

    big hug xoxoxo

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    1. Dear Demie - that is right, these are the purple flowers of the honesty plant and when the flowers are fertilised they produce the wonderful silver pods. So much of this plant is edible because it belongs to the Brassica family i.e. cabbages and mustard plants.

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  14. I do not know if I have ever seen it here. Will look for it now. It is pretty. I am partial to purple.

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    1. If you find it then it would probably prefer a shady spot Olive - the purple is vivid almost flourescent.

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  15. The second last picture is the best because of the unique nature of the flowers.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I agree that the seed pods are unique and it is hard to imagine that these little purple flowers produce such a lovely pod.

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  16. Hello! Very nice blog and interesting posts, great atmosphere.
      Have a nice day. :)
    Welcome to our blog about photography. +
    I hope you also enjoy it with us.

    Greetings!

    "Do what you love is not even that, but anyway"

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    1. Thanks for your visit - glad you enjoyed the posts.

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  17. Honesty has arrived in my garden for the first time this year & I'm thrilled! I too had a childhood fascination for the strange silvery seed pods.

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    1. Honesty seems to have enjoyed the winter and has now gone on the rampage, but fortunately it is easily controllable. Lets all put the dried seed pods in our homes this autumn - harking back to the 60s.

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  18. Lucky you Rosemary, in South East Asia, it is considered lucky to receive the Money Plant. It is a symbol for prosperity. That's why it is better given rather than bought. So since it just appeared in in your garden, then you have been blessed!

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    1. Thanks Pamela - thats exciting news!!!

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  19. Another pretty flower which is new to me. Rosemary, you are a wonderful source of garden information. Honesty is really interesting with those seed pods and purple blooms, but I suspect it would not grow in our heat!

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    1. I should think that you are correct Patricia - it tends to like a shady border, and I assume it is doing so well this year because of our long cold winter. Other people here have reported it arriving in their garden too this year.

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  20. I don't have that pretty in my garden, but I'm going to find some soon!

    Lovely pics.
    Hugs - Mary

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    1. It gives doubly value Mary with its glorious silver pods in the autumn and winter.

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  21. It's such a pretty colour. I'll have to look for this plant. I like the idea of an attractive seed pod for winter interest.

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    1. Some people have mentioned that they know the seed pods, probably because they have seen it in flower arrangements, but didn't realise that it came from these purple flowers. I shall have to show some photos of it later in the season when the pods begin to form.

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  22. I had Lunaria lat year in my garden...all of a sudden it was just there , but this year there is no sign of it...yet, hope it will return , love that plant!

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    1. It probably is not around because the bees didn't visit the flowers and fertilise them. Hopefully there may be some seeds lying dormant in the ground which will germinate for you next year.

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  23. Dear Rosemary, I hope you try some Honesty in a salad — I can imagine it would look so beautiful. Now I'm trying to think of a colorful counterpart ingredient for it, perhpas mandarin oranges . . .

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    1. I did put the flowers in a salad a couple of weekends ago when we had guests and used wedges of lime which complimented the purple quite nicely, but you are right mandarins would look very striking.

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  24. Hello, Rosemary !
    Gorgeous pictures! Another beautiful flower!!! I like Lunaria ♡
    Thank you for visiting my blog.

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    1. Lunaria is a welcome plant in our hedgerow, and it seems to keep flowering for weeks.

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  25. Such a beautiful flower! I also love that Lunaria. A lovely drawing..Happy gardening, Rosemary!

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    1. Dear Satu - Margaret Tarrant was born in the Victorian era and specialised in depictions of fairy-like children - She did books on Forest Fairies, Pond Fairies and Twilight Fairies, and many of her illustrations have been made into birthday cards. The book she is most famous for are her illustrations of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley which you may be familiar with.

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  26. A pretty flower, Rosemary, but it is the seedpods which entrance me as so otherworldly. Your photos capture this distinction beautifully.

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    1. I am really hoping that the bees have done their business on the flowers Perpetua so that I get some of the pods this winter - it is so cold that for the time being the bees seem to have vanished which doesn't auger well for the fruit blossom again this year.

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  27. Hello Rosemary,
    I'm slowly catching up and enjoying every word and photo. I was familiar with this plant in its dried disk state. 'Monnaie du Pape' is the name in French (don't know why the Pope is involved, strong catholic church influence in French culture perhaps). I had never seen the flower it produced - gorgeous colour. I want it both in my garden and in my salads now.
    Au plaisir,
    Anyes

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    1. Dear Anyes - quite a few commenters did not associate the purple flowered plant with the silver seed discs. I remember my mother having the seeds in a vase during the winter time and sometimes using them in Christmas decorations. Perhaps I should bring back the tradition this year when the flowers have hopefully produced their discs. They need to be fertilised by the bees first so hope that they have been calling on them.

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