Focus on... the lunaria (Honesty)
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
The lunaria is at the heart of the Moon Spell necklace, but do you know this plant? At first glance, if you see it in the spring or summer, it may not catch your attention. From the same family as cabbages and other turnips (Brassicaceae), its rustic appearance with its large leaves on its slender foot (about 3 ft) does not suggest all the treasures it has in store... Native to the Mediterranean basin, it was introduced in France in 1570. It is however not invasive, even if its seeds are very easily reseeded.
Latin: lunaria annua or lunaria biennis, depending on whether it is considered more as an annual or biennial (when it is not triennial that mischievous one!).
Lunaria comes from luna, the moon in latin, " because the seed of this plant has a figure approaching that of the moon, when it is in its full " Universal Treatise on Simple Drugs, Nicolas Lémery, 1716
Other common names in France: Pope's money, Monnaie du Pape, Grass with shields, White satin, Medal of Judas...
In English: Honesty, Chinese coins, Herb twopence, Silver dollar, Money plant...
We often find the idea of counterfeit money or low value money.
Its leaves look like large nettle leaves. Some varieties are more ornamental with purple or variegated leaves.
Its mauve flowers (some varieties are white or pink) appear from March to June. They are fragrant (especially at night), nectar-bearing and polliniferous and therefore delight the palates of many insects.
The flowers being self-fertile, they systematically transform into flattened fruits (called siliques or silicules) when summer comes. Composed of leaflets that take on a parchment appearance over time, they contain the seeds, as well as a delicate membrane with pearly silver reflections... It is this part that I have chosen to honor in the Moon Spell necklace. If you let the plant dry, you obtain branches provided with these lunar discs which make a magnificent decoration for autumn and winter. The seeds are visible by transparency as soon as the siliques appear, which earned its name in English.
In a short InstagramTV video (click the image to access), I showed you my last harvest and how to remove the outer membranes (it's in English).
Where to find it
My first encounter with the lunaria was in a natural environment at the edge of a trail in Roussillon in the Vaucluse (France), a corner also called the Provençal Colorado because of its spectacular ocher to red soil. The lunaria is therefore found mainly at the edge of woods, but also in ditches or meadows.
A year later, we settled down with my companion in a house at the entrance to the forest of Orleans and discovered in the spring that there was a lunaria bed in the garden of our rental. This is where I get my (important!) stock for Moon Spell necklaces. If you want to create a little corner of lunaria in your garden, know that it is a hardy plant that generally thrives in all types of soil and withstands temperatures down to -20 ° C and altitude (up to 1500 m). It particularly appreciates the partial shade, as in the natural state. The seeds can be planted in spring or as in nature in the fall (in this case the seedlings take advantage of the winter to establish themselves well). When you harvest the decorative branches in the fall, consider resowing the seeds for the following year.
Everything is edible in the lunaria! Its main root, thick, can be eaten raw in salads or dried and reduced to powder to spice up a dish. Its seeds (which birds love) can be roasted and used as a flavoring also for their spiciness, or in tea. Flower buds, young leaves and young siliques, although having a pungent and bitter taste, are rich in vitamin C and can be eaten in salads.
The lunaria contains lunarine which is an alkaloid (a substance of plant origin with toxic or therapeutic properties). The lunaria has known effects on the cardiovascular system, eye muscles, digestive system and respiratory system. It participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates and glandular secretions. Formerly, it was attributed healing properties as an antiseptic on wounds and it could be prescribed against epileptic seizures and rabies. Vitamin C from the green parts and the pungent side of the roots and seeds have a stimulating effect.
It is associated with the Moon, femininity, fertility, or even with oblivion and fortune. Among Anglo-Saxons, it symbolizes pretenses or, conversely, honesty: if it naturally established in front of a house (doesn't work if you intentionnaly planted it of course...), it meant its inhabitants were honest people. Very present in the gardens of our grandmothers, it will be a source of nostalgia for many.
It has been attributed magical powers related to fortune, as a good luck talisman to ward off creatures of night, evil spirits and dark magic.
Because of its close similarity to the Moon and high fertility, I recommend wearing the Moon Spell necklace when you feel particularly connected to the Moon or your feminity, or for rituals about them.
In France, the lunariais on the red list of vascular flora at the national level but in "minor concern", that is to say that the risk of disappearance is low.