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MARIGOLD - Calendula Officinalis
By Jeanne Rose

Calendula infused oil is a wonderful product to nourish dry skin. It also makes a good carrier oil used in aromatherapy massage. To make this product use The Aromatherapy Book and refer to pages 249-250. Essentially, you have to get freshly picked flowers, infuse and macerate in olive oil several times, heat gently and allow the oil to drain into a clean container. Only the common variety with deep orange color is of medicinal value. The yellow flower can also be used but it does not make as deeply colored infused oil and it seems of ‘lesser’ strength.  Calendula Infused Oil is a wonderful product to have on hand. During the summer when the flowers are available there are classes to teach the making of this wonderful infused oil.   


Use the fresh flower
for infused oil.

   Parts Used. The flowers and leaves are used for distillation and only the flowers for infused oil.
Leaves - Gather these in dry weather, in the morning, after the sun has dried the dew.
- The flowers are used and if they will be dried, it needs to be done quickly in the shade, in a good current of warm air. They can be hung in mesh bags from tree limbs or spread out on sheets of paper, without touching each other. If they are dried and the flowers have been touching they will become discolored. Another method of drying is to spread them on screens in a warm dry attic or over a stairway. This has been described extensively in The Herbal Studies Course, chapters 31 and 33.

Medicinal Action and Uses. Marigold is chiefly used as a local remedy. It has a stimulating action and is diaphoretic (makes you sweat) when taken as a warm tea. Given internally, it encourages a natural internal action and prevents suppuration (pus formation as in an abscess or a vesicle and the discharge of pus). .
  The usual recipe for herbal infusions is of 1 ounce dried herb to a pint of boiling water, steep for 10-20 minutes and take internally, in doses of one tablespoonful, every hour; and used externally as a local application for sores, pus’y wounds, pimples or irritation. It is useful as an internal tea in chronic ulcer, varicose veins, etc. This infusion was formerly considered to have much value as an aperient (mild laxative) and intestinal cleanser in obstructions in the digestive system and for jaundice

Fresh Marigold flower is a useful remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee when rubbed on the affected area. A lotion made from the infused oil, flower wax and essential oil is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a hydrosol water distilled from these flowers is good for inflamed and sore eyes. The hydrosol is made from fresh flowers and is being used in new ways to combat old problems. The Hydrosol and Aromatic Waters Booklet details these uses and gives sources where you can purchase this new product. 

An infusion of the freshly gathered flowers, drunk hot is useful in summer fevers and cold, as it gently promotes perspiration - a decoction of the flowers has been used to treat smallpox and measles. Marigold flowers are very useful for children's ailments.

The leaves when chewed at first taste gummy and sweet, followed by a strong penetrating salty taste. The expressed juice of flowers and leaves, which contains the most of this pungent matter, has been given in cases of costiveness (retained feces), where it acts as an aperient and proved very useful for this problem. Since it is gentle, it can be used with children and in small doses for your pets.

The expressed juice of the flower or the dried powdered flowers, snuffed up the nose triggers sneezing and a discharge of mucous from the head. Years ago when I tried to express the juice of fresh flowers, I used a Champion juicer, got only a few drops of juice but used this, diluted by half with water, as nose drops for a client who had a hole in the septum. 

The leaves and flowers can be eaten as a salad and also been considered a medicinal culinary herb, useful in skin diseases and swollen lymph nodes of children. Some of the stronger scented Calendula with lots of resin is recommended to remove warts. 

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) growing.

Cultivation —The Marigold is a native of south Europe, but hardy in this country, and easy to grow. Seeds are sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places and 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.

Growth - annual
▪    Planting depth - 6 mm / 1/4 inch deep
▪    Seed spacing - 5 cm / 2 inches
▪    Germination - 10 days at 15-20C / 59-68F
▪    Thinning height - 5 cm / 2 inches
▪    Light preference - full sun or partial shade
▪    Plant spacing - 22.5 cm / 9 inches
▪    Bloom time - June to frost

Calendula is a bright and cheery plant that blooms all summer from June until frost. It is native to the Canary Islands, South and Central Europe, and North Africa.  Calendula flowers are large (up to 4in/10cm across) and come in blends of yellow, orange, apricot and cream. Darkness is needed to promote germination, and seeds should be covered lightly with soil. Calendulas are annuals, but reseed themselves readily in the garden. Deadheading will promote longer bloom time, as well as prevent reseeding.  They will grow in poor soil, sun or partial shade. Calendula plants will thrive in full sun, fertile soil and cool weather, but will bloom satisfactorily in all conditions except deep shade and extreme heat. 

Companion Planting. Calendula deters asparagus beetles and tomato hornworms making them a good companion
planting for tomatoes.


The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose

The Hydrosol and Aromatic Waters Booklet by Jeanne Rose. $24.50

©All Rights Reserved 2003, 2004. No part of this article may be used
without prior permission from The Aromatic Plant Project.
©Author's Copyright and Jeanne Rose,

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