Herb of the Year 2008

January 14, 2008

Calendula flower

Calendula flower

The herb of the year 2008 is
Calendula officinalis which is a pretty and very precious plant otherwise known as Pot Marigold, Common Marigold, Marybud, Bulls Eye, Garden Marigold, Holligold or Souci!  The botanical name comes from the Latin ‘calendae’, meaning the first day of the month.

Calendula flowers are a lovely cheerful colour which brighten any area in which they grow.  They also have fantastic skin healing properties when added to skincare products.  It has the following properties: antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.

A poultice of the flowers can be used to help relieve stings, eczema, impetigo, burns, scalds, varicose veins, bruises, sores, boils, pulled muscles and more. If you look at some of the skin healing creams or balms in the shops, you will see that many of them contain an extract of calendula.

Plant Description

A hardy annual with daisy-like, single or double yellow or orange flowers from June to October.  Leaves are light green and aromatic.

Site:  Any free draining soil, prefers a sunny position

Height and Spread: 50cm to 70cm

How to grow, harvest and use calendula

Sow seeds either in pots under cover in the autumn then plant out in late spring after the risk of frost has gone, spacing them out approximately 30 cm apart.  Alternatively, sow seeds outside in late spring, but protect from slugs – they love the tender leaves!

Parts used

Flower petals with white ‘heel’ removed, young tender leaves.

Harvesting

Pick flowers as soon as they open during the summer.  Pick leaves when young and tender for use in salads.

Household and skincare uses

Dry flowers at a low temperature for use in

pot pourri, bath teas, herbal tea, skincare products or culinary use.  An infusion of the flower petals can be used to clear up spots and nourish the skin.

Ornamental

Calendula is a cheerful addition to the garden and combines well with other plants eg feverfew, dill and rosemary.  The dried petals can be used to add colour to pot pourri.

Culinary uses

The fresh or dried petals can and have been used in the past as a substitute for saffron.  They give a golden colour and subtle flavour to soups, custards, rice, cookies and omelettes, milk desserts and the petals can be added to salads.  I have used the petals in a fairy cake mixture as well

The young leaves have a slightly peppery taste so can be added to salads.

If using fresh petals or young leaves, make sure they are undamaged, wash them and use immediately.

Be sure to correctly identify the plant as well; it should be Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold) and not Tagetes which is used in a totally different way.

Copyright 2007-2008  Madeleine Giddens

This article is based on an article previously published in my April 2007 monthly newsletter.  If you like it, why not try out the newsletter by clicking on the green envelope symbol in the yellow box on my website.  You will also receive a free report ’7 Everyday Herbs Made Simple’.

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