Wild Mustard: Pretty and Pink!

Lunaria sp., the “money plant”

The great thing about botany is that it helps you identify wild edibles even when you don’t know quite what species you’re looking at. Whenever you see a plant with four petals arranged like a cross, as this blossom is, and it has seed pods swirling around the stem in a spiral staircase, then you know you’re looking at a mustard. And the good news is, every mustard is edible!

That’s why, if you get Lunaria confused with the similar looking Dame’s Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, it’s no big deal. Both are mustards. The flowers of both plants look alike, but the leaves and seed pods are different shapes. Lunaria leaves are heart-shaped with branching veins and serrated edges, and the stems are fuzzy with a purplish tinge.

Lunaria leaf

When I first noticed Lunaria appearing around town, the seed pods hadn’t yet appeared, so I wasn’t sure which brassica it was. I crowd-sourced the question with a cell-phone pic on Twitter and Facebook. Then I checked out the botanical descriptions of all the suggested possibilities and determined that it was the money plant, a common ornamental that escapes gardens. You might recognize its dead form, with those unique, gray-colored “coins.”

I’ve been eating Lunaria a lot lately and really enjoying it. The flowers are sweet, the leaves are very mild tasting and the seed pods are super spicy. If you see it around, definitely give it a munch! It’s my new favorite wild edible.

Share this post with your friends and family and help them learn to identify wild mustard.

Then explore many more wild plants on the Search Plants! page.

9 thoughts on “Wild Mustard: Pretty and Pink!

  1. Pingback: Dandelion Hunter in the News | First Ways

  2. Pingback: Winnowing Money Plant Seeds

  3. Thanks for this Becky – there’s lots of Honesty growing in a neighbour’s garden which I’m currently tending, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to look up edible/other uses for it! Had a chew on the green seedpods this afternoon and was quite taken aback by the mustard hit a few seconds later. Maybe the seeds would be worth harvesting later to grind and mix with water as PFAF suggest


  4. That’s great. I need to get better at family identification. I had some of this growing and didn’t even realize it was a mustard.

  5. It is possible to create an account on PFAF, and once you’re logged in you can give your own star rating down at the bottom of the page. I don’t think it affects their edibility rating, but they’re aiming “to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users” :)

    I have just sourced some Honesty seeds via Twitter, so I should have some to try next year! Thanks for the post 😀

  6. Hi Emma! Yes, some people here in the US also call Lunaria “Honesty.” I dunno who is doing the rating system for PFAF, or how they go about scoring, but I think Lunaria should get 4 stars! :)

  7. Here in the UK we call Lunaria ‘Honesty’ – lots of people grow it in gardens because of the ornamental value of the seedpods in winter. I have never seen it growing wild, but then I wouldn’t have recognised it from the flowers, as I haven’t yet grown it myself.

    Hesperis I know as ‘Sweet Rocket’ – I have some seeds but haven’t sown them yet. It’s interesting that you say they’re both really nice to eat – PFAF only gives them both 2 stars for edibility :)

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