Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lunaria Biennis

Brigitte presented me with a small, round, quarter-sized, paper-thin plant-pod this afternoon. This came after she searched through a massive thick gardening book and came up, glasses on her nose, shaking her head. She looked at me over her glasses and wondered: Could I possibly somehow determine what this plant even was!?
Good Lord! But, to be sure, with great confidence in my abilities to extract information from the Internet—after all I have the power of describing things—I went to work to see what this strange, wondrous plant, growing in silence in a very shady and hidden part of our yard, might be.
Before I started we got busy assembling more detailed information. Brigitte took one of the pods and gently pried it apart. It consisted of three layers, two on either side and, between them, a wonderfully silvery and yet translucent inner sheet to both sides of which the actual seeds, themselves rounded but notched, clung in a dark brown color.

In this Age of the Image, it is a very chancy assignment to find something in the global brain the name of which is, for the moment anyway, “a round, flat, paper-thin seed pod.” And thus I gradually learned just how many seed pods there are and the infinite variety in which they come. But, after staring at a couple of hundred (I’m wise enough by now to have included the letters jpg in my search from the outset), I discovered that our tiny friend and cohabitant was the Money Plant, Lunaria biennis, in some circles also known as “Honesty.”

And there they are—the pictures courtesy of Dave’s Garden, reachable here, indirectly guided by Seedpod, Seed & Seedling Images, an English site available here. The first shows the mature plant with its pods, the second a younger version in full flower. Oh, yes. On the way to the second site, I also perused, at great length, a USDA facility filled with several hundred encyclopedic entries, each with a great depth displaying photos of seed pods at every stage of their lives. I staggered down the stairs enlarged to twice my size with overflowing pride. Look, Mom, look what I found: Lunaria Biennis!


  1. Yes, oh, yes! You are "the Finder" extra-ordinaire!
    Lunaria Biennis has puzzled me for a couple of years now and this year I wanted to finally see if it could be identified. And YOU did it!
    Having secured seeds for next year's planting, though this plant has managed without my help thus far, I will spread "Honesty" throughout my shady yard.
    Thanks you very much, my dear.

  2. Oh, what a wonderful adventure. The photos are lovely too.

    By the way, my neighbor was collecting some very odd looking... seed pods off his driveway the other day as Katie and I walked by. He was puzzled by the pods as there were no plants nearby that could have shed them and they were heavyish. We concluded that they had been tossed there by children but never did find the plant from which they came. When next I see that pod, I'll snap a picture for you... Finder extra-ordinaire!

    Keep on spreading the Honesty, Mom, by all means, and the money too (Money Plant)!


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