What is Honesty?
The Bible has a lot to say about honesty, in fact someone has counted that there are one hundred and seventy four verses about honesty in the Bible, so it must be important. A definition of honesty would include such human virtues or qualities as integrity, truthfulness and sincerity. The phrase "Honest-to-God" is often spoken; it is an informal way of saying that someone or something is real and genuine.
However, there is another definition of honesty. It is one of the common names of a plant that belongs to the Family Brassicacaea, although it is also classified in the Family Cruciferae; the names are synonymous. The Genus is Lunaria and the Species include the Annua.
- Family Brassicacaea tells us that it is part of the cabbage family.
- Family Cruciferae: It is a flowering plant and the flower has four petals in the shape of a Cross.
- Genus Lunaria: The seed-pods are moon-shaped. Actually they are more oval than round.
- Species Annua: Some species of Lunaria are annuals, but other species are biennials, that is, they grow in their first year and flower in their second year.
Lunaria has acquired a number of different common names in a variety of countries. In many English-speaking countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, the plant is known as Honesty as the replum of the seed-pods are translucent. The shape of the seed-case has led it to be named Moonwort in some places and as the shape also resembles a coin it is also called Money Plant. In the same vein, because of the semi-transparent shimmer of the replum, it is known as the Silver Dollar in parts of the USA.
Lunaria has inspired Biblical reference again in both Denmark and the Netherlands where it is known as Coins of Judas, as it is very prolific in its production of seed-cases. This refers to Judas Iscariot who was paid thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal of Jesus.
The Story of Honesty
Lunaria is native to the Balkans, South-east Europe and South-west Asia. It has now been naturalised in many temperate countries, especially in Europe, North America and Australia.
Lunaria was given the common name of Honesty in Britain in the sixteenth century and its old-fashioned charm ensures that it continues to be a favourite in cottage gardens and flower beds, both for its flowers and for the seed-cases which remain for some time after the flowers are gone, probably for most of the winter, depending on the situation.
Easy to Grow: Honesty is a low maintenance plant that is not fussy about the type of soil where it is planted. It will grow in shady, part-sun or in full sun areas, but flowers best if it has about five to six hours of sun a day. It is drought tolerant and easy to grow. It attracts butterflies and usually has few insect problems.
Biennial: Although the name, Lunaria Annua suggests that it is an annual, it is best grown as a biennial. However, if it is planted early in some situations smaller plants will flower, but not as well as they will in their second year.
- The seeds can be planted directly into garden beds, borders or containers, although the latter need to be fairly large; like other brassicacaea it has deep taproots. Sow early in the season and cover with a light sprinkling of soil. The plants will grow well in the first year.
- By the second year they will be around two to three feet tall and about one foot wide. Racimes of numerous small cross-shaped flowers will appear from late spring to summer. Different species produce violet, pale reddish-purple or white flowers.
- At first the seed-cases are green and these gradually dry off and turn a golden-brown colour before splitting open.
- Honesty produces flowers at the same time as iris so they make good companion plants as the colours blend and the seed-cases provide longer interest in the garden.
- If you want blooms each year, plant seeds in two successive years and that will usually be sufficient as the plants self-seed and are quite prolific.
Uses of Honesty
The uses of honesty are quite varied, both for the gardener and in other ways.
For the Gardener:
- If left in the garden, when the seeds have been shed the shimmering replum adds interest to the winter garden.
- They make a great addition to dried flower arrangements in the home over winter. Cut the stems close to the ground. If the seed-cases are not split open it is quite easy to do this. The seed capsules, or siliques, are made up of three layers, the two outer walls, or valves, of the ovary and the inner replum to which the seeds are attached. Slide off the outer walls, gently remove the seeds (save them for planting next season) and you are left with the shiny replum.
- Industry: Research has found that 30 - 40% of the oil is rich in long chain fatty acids; this is potentially suitable for lubricants and engineering nylons.
- Pharmaceutical Investigation: Research is looking at the potential value of the oil in combating Multiple Sclerosis.
Gardens and Gardening
- A Small Unit Garden: some ideas
A surprising number of vegetable can be planted in pots and tubs in a small garden. Even when the space is restricted a small Worm Farm can be very beneficial. Discusses how to care for the worms.
- Fascinating Topiary
The ancient art of topiary goes back to the time of Julius Caesar. Over the centuries it has gone in and out of fashion and has evolved in many countries around the world. With the advent of topiary frames more and more exotic shapes can be used.
- How to Design a Children's Garden
Some useful points to observe when designing a children's garden are space, purpose, age, budget and design. A children's garden may be designed for a space as small as a window-sill or a large area; you need to know your purpose in designing it.
- How to Choose Plants for Container Gardens
How to choose plants for container gardens discusses the need for good planning before commencing such a project. The choice of decorative plants for growing in containers indoors and outdoors and of edible plants for indoors and outdoors.
- Caterpillars, grubs, maggots and weevils
A brief verse, for the Poem a Day challenge for April, and also a look at some types of insects and how they affect our daily lives.