Honesty is a biennial which is probably best known for the remains of its translucent, circular seed pods on dried, branching stems that are used in flower arrangements. It is thought that the common name, Honesty was given to the plant because of the transparent covers of the seed case showing its content, the other common names, Money Plant and Penny Flower arise from their size and shape. The Genera name, Lunaria also reflects the moon-like shape of the seed pods.
The leaves are heart-shaped with a toothed edge and are attached in opposing positions, with a long stalk, to the lower stem. The leaves on the flowering stem which develops in the second season, are smaller, stalkless and at stem junctions. Some plants can be variegated (see right).
The flowers occur from April to June and are attractive to longer-tongued bees and butterflies. They have four petals and are purple, although there can be white-flowered forms.
The plant is easily uprooted and provided the growing point is removed the roots will not re-grow.
It is sometimes confused with Dame's Rocket Hesperis matronalis due to similarities in the shape and form of the flowers, although those of the latter are a pale violet to white, and the seed pods are long and thin. Young shoots of Hedge Woundwort have similar foliage.