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Plant of the Week- Calendula

Posted May 21 2010 3:00am
I decided to feature a plant a week and give my plant allies some real face-time. I do hope I can live up to my promise of posting weekly, and I hope to engage my readers in the world of the plants. I want to share both the medicinal information and the folklore of the plant. Plants have a fascinating place in history and mythology because humans have interacted with plants since the beginning of time. Before there was Prozac there was St John’s Wort, before there was Digitalis there was Foxglove (which by the way although used as a medicine is poisonous).  The role of plants in ancient stories and histories is a large one; from using as a love potion to using to kill Socrates plants are involved in our history. This week I chose to talk about Calendula also known as “Pot Marigold” because it is so easy to grow and because it has a history; not to mention is an amazing skin tonic.

Calendula is an extremely easy plant to grow, it can also be called Pot Marigold and can be grown from plant or seed. The plants are often found in the herb section, not the flower section of your garden store. They are supposed to be annuals but in my garden they are perennial; in fact they have come back even after we turned and tilled an area where we are putting tomatoes this year. No worries though, it is good to plant marigolds near tomatoes because they distract the bugs.

In modern days we use calendula as a skin tonic and antiseptic, it works wonderfully for skin irritations and eczema or diaper rash. (I blend it with German Chamomile for those conditions). To make a massage oil infusion, pull your flowers  in full bloom and put them in a mason jar, fill almost to the top. Add a carrier oil such as sweet almond or a blend of sweet almond with 10% jojoba or evening primrose oil, set in a sunny window and shake it around once a day. Your oil should start to get orange or yellow. After about a week; strain the flowers and replace with new flowers and follow the same process. Once you feel the blend is strong enough strain out the flowers and store your oil in a cool, dry place. Massage oil into areas affected with extremely dry skin, eczema or diaper rash.
Now onto the fun part the folklore; for such as simple plant Calendula has quite a history.
  • Calendula is known as the weather forecaster- if she has not opened by 7Am rain can be expected. It is also said she is like a sundial you can tell the time of day by her.
  • Also know as “Mary’s Gold” hence Marigold she is associated with the Virgin Mary.
  • We have all heard of picking the petals and asking “he loves he loves me not” as a portend for romance. A piece of the root wrapped in purple cloth was known as an effective love-spell.
  • Marigold was also used by the cooks serving King Henry VIII because he loves his food strong in flavor and color and marigold will turn your rices and food a brilliant color.
  • Lastly, and my favorite of all; it is said that if you rub Calendula petals on your eyelids you will be sure to have a fairy encounter.
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