Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb Calendula officinalis are calendula, Mary gowles, golds and pot marigold.
The Common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in bloom on the calends of every month, hence its Latin name, and one of the names by which it is known in Italy - fiore d'ogni mese - countenances this derivation.
It was not named after the Virgin, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary.
It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine.
Calendula is an annual or biennial plant which reaches a height of 30 to 40 cm. Its flower heads are bright yellow to orange. Stems and leaves are fleshy and sticky to the touch. There are several varieties with full flower heads, with dark or light stamens. The flowers are the part used in herbal medicine. Calendula bears many-petaled orange or yellow flowering heads two to three inches (four to seven centimeters) in diameter. The oblong green leaves help to distinguish calendula from tagetes marigolds.
Range and Habitat
The calendula is an indigenous plant species of the southern European region. These days, it is cultivated in many temperate regions of the world for use in many processes and is naturalized in temperate North America and Asia. Ideal soil profiles for the growth of the calendula are light to sandy and moderately rich soils. The soil must be fairly moist with a good drainage without water logging. The calendula tolerates a pH range from an acidic 4.5 to a very alkaline 8.3.
Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them 9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of young plants in the spring.
The calendula can be placed in pots for keeping inside the house in midsummer. Plants must be brought indoors several days in advance before the estimated coming of the first frosts in the fall. When calendula plants are placed indoors, the plants will need a minimum of five hours exposure to direct sunlight daily, which can be substituted by twelve hours of exposure to strong artificial light a day. As root rot can result from excess water, plants must not be watered too often. Ideally, the soil in the pot must be kept moderately moist at all times.
The flowers and the
leaves are the main parts
which are of medicinal and
Begins in June. Its name refers to its tendency to bear flowers by the calendar, once a month in warm climates, usually during the new moon.
Pests and Diseases
Calendula is not normally troubled by disease, but it is susceptible to mildew in warm, moist weather. Remove affected plants and inspect the patch regularly to nip any further problems in the bud. Calendula is a particular favourite of aphids. This shouldn't be too much of a problem, as beneficial predators such as ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies will soon swoop in to eat the pests.
• Calendula cleanses, stimulates circulation and improves the healing of wounds. The ointment brings swift relief in phlebitis, varicose ulcers, fistulas, frost bites and burns. Use the ointment and also the residue of ointment preparations for ulcers on the breast, even if they are malignant.
• Cancer like ulcers and growths, cracked feet, ulcerated legs, thigh ulcers and also malignant, suppurating, non-healing wounds are helped by washing with an infusion of equal parts of Calendula and Horsetail.
• The phytochemicals in calendula make it a particularly good treatment for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and minor wounds. Calendula is also effective for more serious skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and lends itself well to long term use.
• It has been asserted that a Marigold flower, rubbed on the affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore eyes.
• An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is employed in fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration and throws out any eruption - a decoction of the flowers is much in use in country districts to bring out smallpox and measles.
• The leaves when chewed at first communicate a viscid sweetness, followed by a strong penetrating taste, of a saline nature. Snuffed up the nose it excites sneezing and a discharge of mucous from the head.
• Calendula tinctures and teas can be helpful for food allergies, gastritis, and irritable bowel problems.
• The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.
• This anti-bacterial flower is also used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis (pink eye).
• The freshly pressed juice of Calendula can be used successfully even in cancer of the skin.
• It is excellent for virus infections and bacteria in the urine.
• Calendual reduces inflammation, promotes digestion and prevents the overgrowth of yeasts.
• A yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.