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Pot (Common) Marigolds

pot-marigoldPot marigold blossoms, originally only single and bright yellow, have been bred to be double and multicolored. An edible herb as well as a bright and cheerful flower, the pot marigold grows from 18 to 20 inches tall. Although nursery plants are readily available in the spring, pot marigolds are easily started by seeding them directly into the garden.

The pot marigold, also called the English marigold and the common marigold is indigenous to Europe and the Mediterranean. Some sources indicate that it may even date back as far back as ancient Egypt. Its Latin name, Calendula officinalis comes directly from the Romans who believed that blossoms opened on the first day of each month, the calends.

For centuries, it was believed that the pot marigold opened in the morning and closed at night. This trait has often been mentioned in literature, most notably by Shakespeare in "A Winter's Tale" where he wrote, "The Marigold that goes to bed wi' th' sun, And with him rises weeping…"

When sown during early spring in a sunny location, provided the area has good drainage, even average soil provides a summer's worth of brilliant yellow to deep orange flowers. An advantage of growing the pot marigold is that the plant reseeds itself throughout the summer into the first frosts of autumn.

Pot Marigold Trivia

Old literature contains many references to the culinary, cosmetic and medicinal virtues of the pot marigold. With the ever-increasing popularity of homeopathic medicines and the return to herbal remedies, the pot marigold has found a new place in the home garden.

  1. As far back as the 15th century, Marigold was thought to be a remedy for a number of medical problems including headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache, bee sting, sprains, wounds, and ague (chills and fever). However, it was noted by Stevens in Countrie Farm that, "It must be taken only when the moon is in the Sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses its virtue."
  2. Some folks still believe that teas and broths made from dried marigold flowers "comfort the heart and spirit".
  3. Botanist and physician Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654) wrote, "The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar and any hot swelling bathed with it instantly gives ease and assuages it."
  4. Early Anglo-Saxons called the Marigold "Golds" or "Ruddes" and boiled the flowers to extract their yellow color. Among its many culinary uses the marigold flower was dried, ground, and then used to add a yellow saffron-like color to soups, stews, and poultry.
  5. Also used for a culinary dye in butters and custards, our ancestors also used the flowers to tint cheeses with a rich golden hue.
  6. Farmers who mixed marigold petals with their chicken feed observed added intensity to the yellow of their egg yolks.
  7. Eleanour Sinclair Rohde notes the marigold flower's use as a hair dye in Old English Herbals, "Of marygold we learn that Summe use to make theyr here yelow with the floure of this herbe, not beyng contet with the naturall colour which God hath geven them."
The Tagetes – African, French, and "Mule" Marigolds
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"Marigold – More than Meets the Eye!"

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