Marigold Calendula officinallis
The cheerful orange and yellow blossoms of marigold look wonderful in the garden and have incredible healing properties. Also known as pot marigold or garden marigold, it has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations.
Marigold or calendula, as it is sometimes known, has a long tradition of uses going back to the Ancient Egyptians, who are known to have used calendula to rejuvenate the skin. The Greeks and Romans used it in cooking, and in both ancient and modern India, calendula flowers are strung into garlands which are then used in religious rituals and weddings. It is a herb of protection and was used as a strewing herb against disease and infection, as well as being carried in one’s pocket as protection against ill fortune, and providing a positive outcome in tricky situations. It was also said to protect against bad dreams and to help you identify your enemies.
One of calendula’s common names is ‘pot marigold’ which alludes to the fact that it was a useful herb to add to ‘the pot’, in stews and soups, as well as being an ingredient in many beauty preparations.
The Latin name ‘calendula’ was given to indicate that it can be found growing throughout the calendar year. This is most likely true in more Mediterranean climates, however I have managed to keep it flowering through to the end of year occasionally, and as soon as the soil warms up it magically reappears! Lovely. It also has the habit of following the sun, gathering in its gently nourishing energies. It is a herb of nurturing and helps us to recognise and attain our own potential.
Marigold has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties, making it a useful herb for disinfecting and treating wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, yeast infections, bee stings, nappy rashes, and other irritations and infections of the skin. It also stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites helping to minimize scarring. This wonderful herb can be incorporated into baths, creams, compresses, washes, salves, ointments, massage oils, baths, facial steams, tinctures, and teas. It is also gentle enough to use for babies, children, or animals. As well as its ability to heal the skin, marigold is used internally for a variety of conditions including ulcers, jaundice, and inflammation of the gall bladder, stomach and intestines, gum disease and sebaceous cysts.
Not only is marigold a wonderful healing herb, but it is also a useful plant in the garden! Marigold repels many common garden pests including aphids, eelworms, asparagus beetles, and is a companion plant for potatoes, beans, and lettuce. Marigold is an annual plant and grows quickly from seed; it will self-seed in the garden and happily over take the garden! The fresh vibrant petals can be used to colour butter, cheese, custards, sauces, or sprinkled on top of salads, cakes, and sandwiches.
Ensure you are using the correct marigold, calendula officinalis and not marigold tagetes.
Calendula infused oil is the basis for many preparations, or can simply be used on its own as a massage oil. It is also very simple to make.
Calendula Herbal Infusion
Place marigold flowers in a clean wide necked jar. If using fresh flowers, wilt for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture, as too much moisture will cause the oil to go rancid. Cover the flowers with olive oil and stir well.
Place the jar on a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once or more per day.
After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth. Pour the infused oil into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil is now ready to use.