Lunaria is native to eastern Europe and southwest Asia, but has become naturalized in other places. It is a member of the mustard family, the Brassicaceae. It is known to some as honesty, I'm not sure why, and to others as money plant, because the translucent seed pods resemble coins, especially after the seeds are gone.
When we moved into our first house, we were given a Chinese vase stuffed with dried money plant branches. The seed pods had been carefully slit open and the seeds removed. It was elegant, but difficult to dust. It sat on the floor in a corner.
A few years later, when our first child became ambulatory, I decided to place the money plant vase on a table to keep it from curious hands. It was not long after I had done this that the last significant earthquake to strike this region occurred. It came at mid-morning. Son was sitting beside me on the sofa. We were reading Curious George. The house shook, the lamps swayed, and the vase with the money plant fell off the table. Son said, "Ooooh."
The sprig of Lunaria in the picture was atop a compost heap at the park. It was guarded by an angry Winter Wren.