What is Lunaria annua?
Luncaria annua (English Honesty) is a flowering plant native to the South West Asia. The first commercial crop to be grown in the UK was in 2016 at Fairking's, following previous successful crop trials.
The plants grow to 90cm tall and produce broad, pointed oval leaves with white or violet flowers. The plant it grown as a biennal crop - that is, it is sown one year to flower the next. When the flowers die, they leave behind paper-thin discs which have a see-through membrane containing the seeds which can over winter.
Uses of Lunaria annua?
The leaves and flowers of the plant have a cabbage like taste, whilst the seeds resemble that of mustard which is strengthened by crushing, therefore making it a great mustard substitute.
The crop has many uses:
- Leaves - Can be used as a green vegetable or Salad
Flowers - added to salads
Root - peeled and eaten.
- High Erucic Acid - can be used as a lubricant, in cosmetics, emulsions, biodiesel etc.
- High Nervonic Acid - mono-unsaturated Omega 9 - used in treatment of disorders involving demyelination (i.e. multiple sclerosis and premature birth). Products containing lunaria oil are in clinical development.