Calendula, also called ‘Pot Marigold’ is in the Asteraceae family. It is a ‘pot herb’ sometimes referred to as ‘poor man’s saffron’. It’s an edible and medicinal cool-season annual.
Calends means the day of the new moon or the first day of any month. It was named Calendula because under the right conditions it can flower every month. While it comes in other colors which are edible, it is the orange ones which are prized for their culinary and medicinal properties.
It has vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, choleretic and antispasmodic properties. Extracts, tinctures and ointments are used to heal wounds, bed sores, persistent ulcers, varicose veins, bruises, gum inflammation, thrush and skin rashes. It’s used as a mouthwash and in creams and lotions.
They are easily dried and used in tea and considered supportive to the heart, liver, digestion and a strong immune system.
A growing tip from trained Herbalist, Kath Antonis, in the UK:
Look into the very centre of the flower, just before the petals reach the central part where the florets are really tight and dense and darker. At the part of the petals near there if there is a faint greenish hue then that flower has not been pollinated. Where the beautiful rich orange goes right to the centre these have been pollinated so the seeds should be good. They flower in succession, so you can collect in succession, leaving a few of the fertile flowers, to drink in their beauty & collect their seed.
More tips from Kath:
Unlike most petals, the healing qualities of Calendula are made readily available in the petals themselves & in the cooking liquid by boiling (10 minutes is enough). An infusion will also be helpful, but in this one plant, boiling is better.
It’s also strongly ‘anti fungal’ — good for healing thrush for example— as a compress/poultice or douche, or preferably both. The compress is wonderfully soothing.
Another most healing preparation is found in the resinous extract. This is made as a tincture with 90% or 96% alcohol. The high alcohol draws out the resinous components.
For the poultice and decoction (boiled) use the dried petals, but for the alcohol extract fresh is preferred.
While the alcohol extract is very effective, the simple boiled decoction & cooked petal compress are wonderful and easy. I wouldn’t be without this remedy!
Many historical texts praise the benefits of Marigold. An interesting quote from Mrs. Grieve’s “A Modern Herbal”
We all know the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the Herbs Generalle in all pottage. (Antheologie, 1655.) Stevens, in Maison Rustique, of the Countrie Farme (1699), mentions the Marigold as a specific for headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache and ague. The dried flowers are still used among the peasantry ‘to strengthen and comfort the hart.’
He says further: ‘Conserve made of the flowers and sugar, taken in the morning fasting, cure the the trembling of the Harte, and is also given in the time of plague or pestilence. The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.’
Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow colour. In Macer’s Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out of the head and strengthen the eyesight.A Modern Herbal
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs: Their Medicinal and Culinary Uses, Edited by Sarah Bunney
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood
Growing & Using Healing Herbs by Gaea and Shandor Weiss
2 thoughts on “Calendula (Calendula officinalis)”
I didn’t realize it was good for varicose veins. I have some oil that I infused with calendula last year. I’m going to try it. I have found that it easily re-seeds. I grew some in pots last year and the some of the seeds are sprouting in those pots right now.
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Good to hear, thanks for sharing! I was pleased how readily they came up from seed, this was my first time trying.
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