Money plant

12 Interesting Facts About Money Plant

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The money plant is a common name that refers to several dozen plant species belonging to different plant families. While there are many varieties, the most popular type of money plant is Pilea peperomioides, also known as the Chinese money plant or missionary plant. This species is native to southern China and is the one most people associate with the common name “money plant”.

The Chinese money plant has very distinctive, round, coin-shaped leaves that give rise to its nickname. It is an evergreen perennial with a spreading, low-growing habit, rarely exceeding 12 inches in height. Chinese money plants have long been grown as indoor houseplants and are valued for their ability to purify indoor air, ease of propagation, hardiness, and ornamental appeal.

Beyond the coin-shaped foliage, the money plant is also associated with Feng Shui principles and the idea that it brings financial luck, prosperity, and good fortune. For these reasons, it has remained popular in homes and offices for many years.

Money Plant - Epipremnum aureum
Money Plant – Epipremnum aureum by fra-NCIS is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

Interesting Facts About Money Plant

1. Its common name refers to its unique seedpods

The most recognizable feature of the money plant is its flat, papery seedpods that resemble coins. This distinctive characteristic gives the money plant its common name. When the seedpods dry, they can be carried away by the wind, scattering seeds as they go.

2. It has links to good fortune and prosperity

In some cultures, the money plant is believed to bring good luck, fortune, prosperity, and financial success to a home or business. According to folklore, the more seedpods produced by the plant, the more prosperous the future will be. The connection to money and good fortune is likely how the plant earned its intriguing common name.

3. The money plant is also known as “honesty”

Another common name for Lunaria annua is “honesty.” This name comes from the fact that the papery seedpods remain on the stem after the plant dies back in winter. The bare stems with their coin-like pods are said to “honestly” reveal what will grow come spring, giving the plant its alternate common name.

4. It originates from Europe and Western Asia

The money plant is native to regions of Europe and Western Asia, including areas of France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Turkey, and Iran. While not native to North America, it has been introduced to parts of the United States and Canada as an ornamental plant.

5. The money plant is a biennial or short-lived perennial

Lunaria annua has a lifespan of two years in climates with cold winters. The plant forms a rosette of leaves the first year, then sends up flowering stems and sets seed in year two before dying back. In mild winter regions, the money plant may survive for several years, behaving more like a perennial.

6. It can self-seed readily under the right conditions

If happy in its location, Lunaria annua will self-seed freely. The lightweight, papery disks are carried by wind and spread the seeds far from the parent plant. These seedlings often appear in sidewalk cracks, garden borders, and other unexpected places.

7. The flowers have an appealing fragrance

In spring, money plant sends up racemes of pretty purple or white flowers. These blooms have a sweet, spicy scent that smells similar to hyacinth or stock flowers. Flowering typically lasts for a month or two before the seedpods start to form.

8. It features prominently in lunar folklore

Folklore links the money plant to the moon. Its scientific name Lunaria is derived from Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon. Lunaria annua means “moon annual,” while another species is known as Lunaria rediviva, or “moon perennial.”

9. The seedpods can be used in dried arrangements

Once dried, the decorative seed disks retain their shape and color well. The papery pods are sometimes featured in dried flower arranging and are particularly popular around Halloween. They add unique texture and symbolism to harvest displays.

10. It has historically been used as a salad green

Before the money plant became popular as an ornamental, it was grown as a leafy green. Records show it was cultivated in monastery gardens during the Middle Ages and eaten in salads. New leaves have a mild, spinach-like flavor.

11. The plant contains saponins that are toxic to livestock

While the cooked leaves are edible for humans, the money plant does contain chemical compounds called saponins. These substances make the plant bitter and toxic to livestock such as cattle, horses, sheep, and goats if consumed.

12. It can be used to make soap

When mixed with water, the saponins found in Lunaria annua produce a soapy lather. For this reason, the money plant has traditionally been used to produce soap and cleaning solutions by rural people in parts of Europe and Asia. The plant material contains compounds that cut grease and have natural cleaning properties.

In conclusion, the humble money plant has more depth than meets the eye. From its links to prosperity and fortune to its use in folk medicine and its namesake papery seedpods, Lunaria annua has some fascinating facts behind it. Next time you see this plant with its coin-shaped pods, you’ll have a new appreciation for its long history and symbolic meaning.


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