|The Lost Herbs
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a perennial that is part of the Asteraceae family along with daisies and chrysanthemums. The common name is, confusingly, pot marigold. Calendula and marigolds in fact belong to different plant families.
Although it is categorized as a short-lived perennial, it is grown as an annual in gardens and plant containers. These compact plants usually have bright yellow or orange flowers, but there are now many varieties some of which have cream or white blooms.
Calendula has historically had culinary and medicinal uses with the latter enjoying a revival.
Unlike many of the health-giving plants we are familiar with, Calendula does not have a long history as a medicinal plant. However, it had a range of ceremonial, magical, mystical, and culinary uses.
Records from Ancient Greece and Rome indicate that Calendula was used to make garlands or crowns of flowers to be worn during rituals of various kinds. These blooms are viewed as sacred in India and have decorated Hindu temples and statues of deities. In the 16th century Europe it was thought that a potion that included Calendula could reveal both fairies and a love match.
When the plant was used as a medicinal one it was believed to ease headaches, toothache, eye irritations, and fever.
Calendula officinalis is thought to be native to the Mediterranean, Macaronesia (the Azores, Madeira, and Canaries islands), southwestern Asia, and western Europe.
Thanks to how easy it is to grow and what a prolific bloomer it is, this plant has now been naturalized throughout southern Europe and large parts of the US and southern Africa.
Calendula is not a large plant and is therefore ideal for borders or containers. Fully grown, mature plants reach a height and width of 1 – 2 feet or 30 ½ – 61 centimeters. Overall Calendula is not difficult to identify.
They are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves do not have stalks but grow from the stem.
Each flower appears on a single erect stem.
Blooms are deep orange or bright yellow with yellow, red, or even purple centers. Flowers close at night.
The seeds are grey or brown, curled, and spiked on the outer surface.
While there may be a degree of hesitation about identifying Calendula when plants are young, once the flowers emerge identification is easy.
Calendula officinalis loves full sun but can tolerate semi-shade if the climate/weather is warm. Well-drained soil that is high in organic material will lead to healthy plant growth. However, these plants can tolerate a wide range of soil pH and occasional watering once they are established.
You can simply let your Calendula plants self-seed, or you can collect seeds and use them to propagate for the following season. You can either sow into containers or directly into the soil in your garden. Indoor propagation should begin 6 – 8 weeks before the last spring frosts are due. Alternatively, plant them outdoors a few days before the last frost.
The seeds must be covered with ½ inch or 1 ½ centimeter of soil or germination will not occur.
If you purchase plugs or seedlings online or from a garden center or plant nursery, don’t plant Calendula out until the frosts are over. Give them a little compost when you plant them and water them regularly until they settle. These plants don’t require fertilizer after planting.
You can use a container if you don’t have a garden or balcony as Calendula is quite happy growing in a pot or window box. However, there must be adequate drainage holes and you must water and feed the plants monthly. Don’t overfeed or the plants become spindly and the blooms decrease in size and number.
Harvesting Calendula flowers is best done:
Once you have cut the blooms, you need to process them (see later section).
The most common use for Calendula is topical and it is used in the form of oil, lotions, salve, toner, and cream/ointment. This is in large part due to the antibacterial and inflammatory properties this plant is believed to have. Far less popular health preparations include tincture and tea in extremely low doses.
These various remedies are used for:
When taken internally as a tea or diluted tincture, Calendula may ease constipation and abdominal cramps and boost the immune system.
With Calendula it is only the flowers that are used in both medicinal preparations and for cooking and fabric dying. The leaves, stems, and roots appear to be of no use.
There are two forms of Calendula that are most useful: infused oil and salve/ointment. In addition to being valuable on its own, infused oil is a vital ingredient in a salve. Both remedies have several topical applications.
When it comes to carrier oils, the best are high-quality, organic, cold-pressed oils. You can select from Grapeseed, Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Rosehip Seed, Extra Virgin Olive, Avocado, Hemp Seed, Argan / Moroccan, or Sunflower.
*Any pet can also benefit from a salve or oil made from calendula. It can be used to help heal minor cuts, scrapes, and even minor burns.
Related: Herbal Remedies for Pets
Store the oil in a dry, cool place. The shelf-life should be the same as that of the carrier oil you used so check that. You can extend this period slightly by storing the infused oil in the refrigerator.
Apply a small amount of salve using a clean cotton bud or fingertip to the affected area as needed.
Store the Calendula salve in a dark, cool place to both stops the salve from becoming more liquid and prolong its life. Homemade salves like this should last up to 24 months but may lose some potency.
It’s not easy to give clinical dosage information because of the lack of studies. Generally, how much to use is determined by several factors including:
If you purchase a Calendula product, ensure that you only do so from a reputable health outlet and that you follow the use and dose instructions on the packaging.
With calendula, the focus is the flowers. These can be preserved by drying, freezing, infusing, or tincturing. The optimal method with these blooms is drying as this best retains their medicinal properties. The other methods can cause the flowers to lose potency. Drying Calendula flowers is straightforward:
Don’t wash the flowers as this will greatly increase the chances of the flowers molding or getting mildewed before they dry. Correctly dried and stored, the plant material should stay fresh and potent for about 6 months.
Because Calendula is referred to as Pot Marigold and both are sun-loving and colorful members of the sunflower or Asteraceae family, the two are sometimes confused. However, the differences are more extensive than the similarities.
If you are unsure, don’t ingest or make use of a plant in case it does not offer the properties you anticipate or – far worse – is harmful.
Although caution should be exercised by anyone introducing a new remedy, including a natural one, some individuals should avoid Calendula:
If you have any concerns, consult your healthcare practitioner first before beginning to use Calendula internally or topically. Similarly, if you experience any adverse reactions after doing so, seek advice and assistance.
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Hi Nicole, do the leaves also have medicinal properties and can they also be used as a whole plant cream or salve?
Hi all and to Nicole I got your book on sat that just went by I have not look at it yet I have been looking at all the other stuff I got I just want to know why we are not getting books you know if this goes down at any time I can louse my book I would rather have a book instead of the E-book why is this happening? I just want to know why? for know reason I do not want to louse my book I payed $37 for thank you Nicole I have been looking at some of your things on here you are a beautiful person and why I got the book I am ill as well they do not know what is roung with me I have really bad pain throw out my body some times I can not take it no longer I just want to give up and I found you thank you. truly Paula.
Your video on how to make calendula tincture actually show marigold flowers not calendulas.
Minor wounds Superficial burns and sunburn Dry and itchy skin Insect bites and stings Easing hemorrhoids
what is the tinture used for mostly..I know about the salve..But tinture for internal use?
Thank you for this very inspiring & informative article on Calendula.