A popular garden plant, Marigold has been valued for many centuries for its' exceptional healing powers and is particularly remarkable in the treatment of wounds. It is an annual plant that thrives in almost any soil. It belongs to the same family as daisies, chrysanthemums and ragweed. When used for medicinal purposes, it is commonly referred to as 'Calendula'.
In appearance, Marigold looks like a large yellow or orange colored daisy, each floret being about ½" (1.25cm) long. A hardy annual, the plant produces its' bright flowers throughout the summer and the flower heads may grow up to 3" (7cm) in diameter. Marigolds' simple fruits are closely curled in the middle of the flower head, almost in the form of a ring. Hence in Germany, its' common name is ringelblume, meaning ringed flower.
The plant grows to a height of approximately 20-28" (50-70cm). The stem is erect and branched, bearing alternate, light green, lance-shaped leaves and both stem and leaves are covered with fine hair. Marigold is described by some as without a marked scent, but others find its' odour rather heavy, while its' taste is bitter. Marigold is self-seeding and once planted, it largely takes care of itself. It thrives in a sunny position and will grow in any good soil, though it prefers one that is rich and moist.
The dried flower petals (orange-yellow) of the marigold/ pot marigold plant have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. Traditionally, it has been used to treat conjunctivitis, blepharitis, eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, minor injuries such as sprains & wounds. It has also been used to treat cramps, coughs, and snake bites.
The Romans discovered that marigold bloomed on the first day of each month, and, therefore, named it for the calendar thus, the Latin term, Calendula officinalis. Officinalis is the word to indicate official medical abilities as accepted in a pharmacopeia.