Calendula officinalis – marigold

Calendula officinalis - marigold

– FAMILY:

Compositae

 

– PLANT DESCRIPTION:

Pot marigold or calendula (Calendula officinalis) is an annual or sometimes biennial plant with erect stems up to 40 – 70 cm. tall. It has a deep taproot.

The leaves are alternate, petiolate, oblong, spatulate, margins entire or with few teeth, and hairy.

Calendula is known for its large flower heads, 5 – 7cm. in diameter. It blooms from June to early November.

The marigold flower is an inflorescence. It belongs to the family of Compositae, and, as its name suggests, each flower head is composed of many tiny flowers, yellow or orange, arranged in a chapter or floral disc.

Each flower head is a receptacle or involucre where the flowers are arranged. It consists of bracts and rises on a long peduncle or flower stalk.

Marigold flowers are radiated, that’s to say, in the middle of the floral heads yellow florets are arranged in the center (male), , and ,at the periphery, there are ray florets (female), that look like orange petals.

In the illustration on the right side, with the letter a) states the drawing of a tubulated flower , and with the letter b) a ray floret.

Pot marigold is a honey plant and its flowers are pollinated by bees, bumblebees, beetles and hoverflies.

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Cultivation details:

Calendula officinalis is widely cultivated and can be grown easily in sunny locations in most kinds of soils. Although perennial, it is commonly treated as an annual, particularly in colder regions where its winter survival is poor and in hot summer locations where it also does not survive.

Calendulas are considered by many gardening experts as among the easiest and most versatile flowers to grow in a garden, especially because they tolerate most soils. In temperate climates, seeds are sown in spring for blooms that last throughout the summer and well into the fall. In areas of limited winter freezing, seeds are sown in autumn for winter color. Plants will wither in subtropical summer. Seeds will germinate freely in sunny or half-sunny locations, but plants do best if planted in sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil. Pot marigolds typically bloom quickly from seed (in under two months) in bright yellows, golds, and oranges.

Leaves are spirally arranged, 5–18 cm long, simple, and slightly hairy. The flower heads range from pastel yellow to deep orange, and are 3–7 cm across, with both ray florets and disc florets. Most cultivars have a spicy aroma. It is recommended to deadhead (removal of dying flower heads) the plants regularly to maintain even blossom production.

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– CHEMICAL COMPOSITION:

The analysis of the chemical composition of pot marigold inflorescences described that the plant contains essential oils (from 0.2 to 0.4%), mucilage, salicylic acid, phytosterols, rich in carotenoids, glycosides, flavonoids and tannins.

Its components highlights the presence of a bitter principle, calenduline (a triterpene saponin) with antiphlogistic, that’s to say, to treat inflammation. The plant also contains salicylic acid, terpenoids (alpha and beta amyrin), caryophyllene and quercetin, with an analgesic effect.

Calendula also contains gentístic acid and malic acid, antibacterial and analgesic effects.

All these components have made calendula in a reputed vulnerary remedy, because the crushed leaves applied to bruises, and flowers to be used internally to treat mouth sores, gingivitis, ulcers and sore throats.

Calendula is also effective as a remedy emmenagogue, to regulate the menstrual cycle, because its richness in flavonoids gives it adequate properties to repair blood vessels and restore good circulation in the body. In cosmetics, the marigold is used for skin care due to its bactericidal properties and because of the softening values for the skin.

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– MARIGOLD USES & BENEFITS:

Edibility:

flowers and leaves are edible. The young leaves of the plant are eaten in salads and have a flavor that may remind slightly of dandelion leaves.
The flower petals are added to salads to decorate and add a touch of flavor. They are also used for flavoring soups, cakes and creamed vegetables.

Gardening:

It can be found cultivated in pots as an ornamental.
The flowers have an ingredient which accelerates bacterial degradation of organic material, thus reducing the time for composting.
The plant repels and reduces the population of some soil nematodes.

 

Medically:

Pot marigold flowers have a recognized medical role for women, as they are used to regulate the menstrual cycle. The flowers also have properties to reduce fever, antispasmodic, for sore throat, for cancer and stomach ulcers.
In external use is applied on the skin to reduce swelling, and for its healing properties.
The flowers are used in skin lotions and added to shampoos to lighten the color of the hair.

Dye:

The petals have a yellow dye, used in food and cosmetics, such as food coloring and hair coloring with gold tones. The marigold petals have been used to adulterate saffron.

Other uses:

  • To predict the time: Calendula flowers close when the weather is humid and it is going to rain, so on certain occasions it has become an indicator of rainy weather.
  • Perfume: The essential oil of Calendula officinalis can be used in perfumery.

 

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