- Calendula officinalis L.
- Composite family
Parts Usually Used
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
Cultivated. Native to central, eastern and southern Europe.
Antispasmodic, aperient, cholagogue (increases flow of bile), diaphoretic,
vulnerary (heals wounds), emmenagogue, diaphoretic, alterative, astringent
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
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.
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
bedsores (decubitus ulcers), sprains, varicose
veins, acne, pulled muscles,
(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
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
Store dried leaves in moisture-proof container to preserve color
and flavor ordinarily lost in humid conditions.
Buy dried flower heads
Do not use during pregnancy.