The Mystique of Money Plants: Hope or Hype

The Mystique of Money Plants: Hope or Hype

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  1.                                                                 lunaria biennis

    While walking through Chinatown one day, my wife’s eye was caught by a so-called money plant—one of dozens—sitting in a small pot outside one of the generic shops along Broadway. “Honey, we should buy one of these,” she said to me. “It’s supposed to bring fortune to those who own it.” Partly because—while I didn’t believe the old myth—we could certainly use the money, but mostly because I am invariably a sucker when it comes to my wife, we bought the plant and took it home. Since I work out of the house and am around far more than she is, my wife asked me to care for the plant, assuring me that money plants were nearly indestructible and all I had to do was water it regularly.

    It died a couple weeks later.

    Fortunately for us, the Chinese shop had accidentally (or purposely) mislabeled the plant we bought, for it was nothing more than bamboo, which is good as if it were an actual money plant, my unintentional act of herbicide may have guaranteed a life of abject poverty for us both.

    Money plants are an imaginary tool of proprietors of one of the latest rip-off fad-schemes in California (to avoid any lawsuits, I’ll avoid naming this scam and just say that it consists of two words; the first sounds like a single vampire, snake or canine tooth; the second word sounds like the see-saw movement of a boat as pronounced by someone with a severe lisp), and as with everything else associated with this fad-scheme, it’s a load of garbage. I know this because, once we realized our mistake, we took a giant leap of faith and my wife entrusted me with the care of a “real” money tree plant, otherwise known as lunaria biennis, and while I didn’t kill this plant, our financial situation hasn’t improved one iota. Of course, an “expert” (yeah… right; good one, Tom) of the fad-scheme would probably say that we keep our money plant in the wrong place and it has no “energy flow”, and if we just moved it to an “energy center” of the room, we’d be rich in no time. Then he’d charge me a couple thousand for his advice if only to contradict his prediction.

    I was once stupid enough to buy a “bratwurst bush” because the guy selling it on the street guaranteed that I’d be up to my ears in delicious sausages in no time. I’d like to blame my idiocy on youth, but my wife would probably die laughing before she could squeak out the words, “That was last year!”


     If you search “money plant” online, you will see pictures of many varieties of plants. For all I know, all of them are referred to as money plants in different cultures, but the “real” money plant is the lunaria biennis, dubbed the money plant because its seed pods resemble silver dollars—and it doesn’t remotely resemble bamboo.


     Lunaria flowers each spring, producing pleasantly fragrant flowers that may draw every bee in your neighborhood, and every part of the plant is edible. Trust me, owning a money plant won’t make you wealthy, no matter where you place it in your home. However, it is a very attractive plant and every spring your house will carry its pleasing scent. They grow well in shady or partially shaded areas, require little care other than watering and will last for many years.

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