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Calendula

  • Calendula officinalis L.
  • Compositae
  • Composite family



Common Names

herbsGarden marigold
herbsHoligold
herbsMarigold
herbsMarsh marigold
herbsMary bud
herbsMary Golde
herbsMary Gowles
herbsPot marigold
herbsSolis sponsa
herbsSolsequia


Parts Usually Used

Leaves, flowers


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Calendula, or Marigold, is an annual garden plant; reaches a height of 20-28 inches, with an angular, branched, hairy stem 1-2 feet high. The leaves are alternate, sessile, spatulate or oblancleolate, dentate with widely spaced teeth, and hairy. From June to October the plant bears large, brilliant, yellow or orange, terminal flower heads that measure over 1.6 inches across.

Opens its petals at nine and closes them at four.

(This is not the common American garden marigold (Tagetes lucida), which is derived from Mexican marigold.) True marigold is an old European plant.)


Where Found

Cultivated. Native to central, eastern and southern Europe.


Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, aperient, cholagogue (increases flow of bile), diaphoretic, vulnerary (heals wounds), emmenagogue, diaphoretic, alterative, astringent


Biochemical Information

Essential oil containing carotenoids (carotene, calenduline and lycopine), a saponin, resin and bitter principle


Legends, Myths and Stories

In medieval England, a popular religious legend described the Virgin as being accustomed to wearing golden blossoms which the monks of the period decided should be named in her honor; from that association of the golden herb with the Virgin Mary, old poets began calling the herb, "Mary Gowles" and "Mary Golde". Years later in Shakespeare's Cymbeline, the marigold flowers were referred to as the "winking Marybuds".

Often used as a less-expensive substitute for saffron, fresh or dried petals give subtle flavor and golden color to seafood, soups, stews, puddings, rice and omelets. The dried petals, softened in hot milk, can be added to the batters of cakes, breads and cookies. The fresh, tender young leaves are good in salads.

There is another marigold (Tagetes lucida) of the sunflower family, known as sweet scented marigold or Mexican marigold, Mexican tarragon, pericon, and sweet mace. This plant has nothing to do with Calendula officinalis. Do not mistake identification. The garden marigold in American gardens is derived from this Mexican marigold (T. lucida). The marigold of old Europe is the true marigold. There is also a French marigold (Tagetes patula). The Tagetes and related species should not be confused with Calendula. The Tagetes species are used as insecticides and weedkillers.

Yellow dye has been made from the flowers of marigold and, as a saffron substitute, used for coloring butter and cheese.

It was the Romans who recorded that the marigold was usually in bloom on the first day (calends) of every month. The Latin generic name Calendula and the common Italian name "fiore d'ogni" were given to the herb from this observation.


Uses

The flowers may be eaten raw, taken as a standard infusion or the latter applied as a lotion. As a lotion, a marigold infusion (petals only) provides the ideal balancer of an over-oily skin, and all complexions will benefit from a salve or ointment composed of marigold flowers, so they say.

Used to regulate menses, help measles, smallpox, earache, colds, reduces fevers. Externally, used as an ointment or oil for burns, bruises, and injuries. The flowers are used for gastro-intestinal problems such as ulcers, chickenpox, fever, stomach cramps, recurrent vomiting, colitis, and diarrhea. Externally for boils and abscesses, a good salve for wounds, bruises, sore nipples, yeast infections, shingles, bedsores (decubitus ulcers), sprains, varicose veins, acne, pulled muscles, sores, warts (rub fresh juice on surface). The tincture is used for gastritis and menstrual difficulties and cramps. It is said that if the fresh flowers are rubbed on wasp or bee stings there is instant relief.

Marigold is often used as a less-expensive substitute for saffron, fresh or dried petals give subtle flavor and golden color to seafood, soups, stews, puddings, rice, and omelets. The dried petals, softened in hot milk, can be added to the batters of cakes, breads, and cookies. The fresh, tender young leaves are good in salads.

Discourages Mexican bean beetles, nematodes, asparagus beetle, and other insects.


Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: use 1 to 2 tsp. fresh or dried flowers with 1/2 cup water; steep for 5-10 minutes and strain. Take 1 tbsp. every hour.

Juice: take 1 tsp. at a time, always freshly pressed.

Tincture: to make, soak a handful of flowers in 1/2 qt. rectified alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) or whiskey for 5 to 6 weeks. A dose is 5-20 drops.

Salve: boil 1 oz. dried flowers or leaves, or 1 tsp. fresh juice, with 1 oz. of lard.

Tea: use 1 heaping tbsp. dried herb in 1 cup boiling water. One cup daily.

Extract: mix 10 to 30 drops in liquid daily.

Oil: apply oil or commercial preparation directly to affected area externally, once daily. Put on cotton swab and place in ear for earache.

Store dried leaves in moisture-proof container to preserve color and flavor ordinarily lost in humid conditions.


Nutrient Content

Phosphorus


How Sold

Buy dried flower heads


Warning

Do not use during pregnancy.

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