This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Annual, biennial or perennial, more or less pubescent erect branching herbs, with broad simple dentate or denticulate mostly cordate leaves, and large violet or purple flowers in terminal racemes. Lateral sepals saccate at the base. Petals obovate, clawed. Siliques long-stipitate, very flat, oblong or elliptic, the papery valves reticulate-veined, dehiscent. Style filiform; septum hyaline, translucent, shining. Seeds circular or reniform, very large, winged, borne on long funiculi, which are adnate to the septum; cotyledons large, accumbent. [Latin, moon, in allusion to the shining partition of the pod.]
Two known species, natives of Europe and Asia. Type species: Lunaria annua L.
Siliques oblong, pointed at both ends; perennial.
Siliques elliptic, rounded at both ends; annual or biennial.
Lunaria rediviva L. Sp. Pl. 653. 1753.
Perennial, pubescent with short simple hairs, stem rather stout, 2°-4° tall. Leaves broadly ovate, acuminate at the apex, deeply cordate, or the upper rounded at the base, thin, the lower long-petioled, 3'-6' long; flowers 8"-12" broad, slender-pedicelled; pods oblong, 2'-3' long, drooping, about 1' wide at the middle, borne on slender stipes of about one-half their length; seeds reniform, broader than long.
In thickets, Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Escaped from gardens or fugitive from Europe. Determination based on flowering specimens collected by Professor Macoun which may, perhaps, belong to the following species. The plant is commonly cultivated for its ornamental flowers and pods. May-July.
Lunaria annua L. Sp. Pl. 653. 1753.
Lunaria biennis Moench, Meth. 126. 1794.
Resembles the preceding species when in flower, but the root is annual or biennial. Siliques elliptic or broadly oval, 1 1/2'-2' long, 1' wide or rather more, rounded at both ends; seeds suborbicular, cordate, about as long as wide.
Escaped from gardens in southern Ontario, southwestern Connecticut and eastern Pennsylvania. Both this species and the preceding are occasionally cultivated for their remarkable large pods, which are gathered for dry bouquets, the valves falling away at maturity and leaving the septum as a shining membrane. Money-plant. Penny-flower. Matrimony-plant or -vine. May-June.