Calendula officinalis



Excerpt from “I stood tip-toe upon a little hill” by John Keats


Open afresh your round of starry folds,
Ye ardent marigolds!
Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
For great Apollo bids
That in these days your praises should be sung
On many harps, which he has lately strung;
And when again your dewiness he kisses,
Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:
So haply when I rove in some far vale,
His mighty voice may come upon the gale.




Other Names:

bride of the sun, butterwort, cowbloom, death-flower, drunkard gold,  fior d’ogni (Italian), gold bloom, husband’s dial, kingscup, maravilla, marybud, marigold, poet’s marigold, pot marigold, Mejorana (Spanish), publican and sinner, Ringelblume (German), summer’s bride, sun’s bride, water dragon, yolk of egg.

Note: Don’t be confused! Calendula is not the same as the common garden or French marigold ( Tagetes ), African marigold ( T. erecta ), or Inca marigold ( T. minuta ).

History of use:


Calendula is thought to be native to Egypt, hieroglyphics from buildings constructed around 5,000 years ago describe calendula flowers.  Kalendae, a Latin word meaning first day of the month, is thought to be the origin of the plant’s name because calendula blooms seemingly at the beginning of the month (really, they bloom continuously through their growing cycle).  Romans used it as a remedy for insect bites and stings.  Calendula’s most popular common name, marigold, is more than likely a reference to the Virgin Mary and the color of the flower, or possibly to ‘ymbglidegold’, which is a Saxon term meaning ‘it turns with the sun’.  It was mentioned in an herbal dating from the 1500s as a common hair rinse to add brightness and color.  During the 1600’s it was highly regarded as a remedy for smallpox and measles and has been used as symbol of constancy in love as a flower for weddings or in love potions.  Calendula was used as a source of yellow dye to color cheese in the 17-1800s and it was used by soldiers during the Civil War to help stop bleeding.  Today calendula is used mainly for topical skin irritations and wounds, though it is also used in conjunction with menstrual difficulties, digestion issues, and for a variety of non-medical applications.  There are several different species of Calendula (C. officinalis being the most common).

Botanical Description:


Calendula officinalis has a fibrous, annual root, with a stem about a foot high, having many patent, dichotomous, or sometimes trichotomous branches, which are striated, green, succulent, and hispido-pubescent. The leaves are alternate, oblong, acute, mucronate, sessile, somewhat succulent, broad, a little cordate at the base, the margins quite entire, often scabrous-ciliate. The flower-heads are large, terminal, solitary upon each branch, of a rich, full, golden yellow, deeper and brighter previous to their full expansion. The involucre consists of many nearly equal, appressed, linear-subulate, pilose-hispid leaves or scales, not one-third as long as the radiant florets, the apices a little recurved. Achenia carinate, muricate, incurved. Corollas of the ray ligulate, female tridentate, broadly linear, lower tubular portion hairy; ovary singularly boat-shaped, curved like a horse-shoe, large, green, downy within, having a thickened margin, more or less tuberculated on the back. The florets of the center are all tubular, small, male, and consequently sterile; mouth 5-cleft, base hairy. The abortive ovaries are cylindrical, downy, and green.

From King’s American Dispensator (1898)  @

Calendula arvensis seed pods

For a more in depth description of another species of calendula (Calendula arvensis), check out this site….



Calendula officinalis is easy to grow in average soil and is bothered by few pests or cultural problems providing the soil is well-drained. Cut back plants when hot weather arrives. If you can keep them alive through the heat of summer they’ll recover and bloom again in fall.
Light: Sun to partial shade. Provide afternoon shade in warm climates to extend the season.
Moisture: Average
Hardiness: Spring and summer annual in cold winter climates; cool weather annual in sub-tropical and temperate zones. Killed by temperature extremes.
Propagation: Plant seed after danger of frost is past. Start plants indoors in colder zones. Calendula plants are widely available at garden centers but they are so quick and easy to germinate you should save your money and sow seeds instead.



Harvesting, Preparation and Storage:


Calendula flowers must be harvested consistently and constantly over the growing season as the plant continuously flowers and individual flowers mature quickly.  Overly mature flowers not as high of a quality, particularly for use medicinal or cosmetic use.  Pick Calendula petals at their peak, in the morning after the dew has dried.  Individual petals can be used fresh, or can be dried.  Flower heads can also be dried, and the petals removed later, when the plant is to be used. 

Medicinal Properties:

Calendula is known for it spasmolytic, mild diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, antihaemorrhagic, astringent, vulnerary, antifungal, antiseptic, cholagogue, emmenagogue, menstrual regulator, antioxidant, antiviral, and mild antibacterial properties.   

Calendula has traditionally been used to treat some of the following conditions: abscesses, acne, anemia, anxiety, appetite stimulant, athlete’s foot, bacterial infections, bladder irritation, blood purification, bowel irritation, bruises, cholera, circulation problems, conjunctivitis, constipation, contact dermatitis, cramps, diaper rash, dizziness, eczema, edema, eye inflammation, fungal infections, GI tract disorders, gingivitis, gout, gum disease treatment and prevention, hemorrhoids, herpes simplex virus infections, HIV (as an immune system stimulant), indigestion, influenza, insomnia, jaundice, menstrual period abnormalities, mouth and throat infections, ringing in the ears, sore throat, spasms, stomach ulcers, uterus problems, varicose veins, warts, yeast infections

The use of calendula has been scientifically supported in human studies for various skin conditions such as hard to heal wounds, thermal and radiation burns, stings, contact dermatitis, and diaper rash.  It is crucial that calendula is not applied in a fat or oil based preparation on any wound or skin condition that is oozing or weeping.  Only water infusions should be used in these cases and the area should be allowed to completely air dry following application.  When applying to an incision, sutures should be removed and scabs should be  formed before applying any calendula preparation other than an infusion.  *A recent study in caesarian patients supports the use of calendula in helping to heal surgical wounds.

In one small study of about 250 women undergoing radiation therapy after surgery for breast cancer, a commercial calendula ointment reduced the amount of skin irritation better than another commonly used commercial preparation. Women who used the calendula ointment also reported less pain from the radiation.

Commercially processed calendula products have also been indicated as helpful in ear aches and oral herpes simplex lesions, while calendula tinctures, infusions and ointments have been successfully used (though not scientifically studied) for ulcers, menstrual pain and delayed period, and fungal infections.

Active Components:

Triterpenoid saponins (sapogenin, oleonolic acid), carotenoids (pro-vitamin A), bitter glycosides, a yellow resin calendulin, volatile oil, sterols, flavonoids, mucilage, carotenoid pigments


*Use only topical and homeopathic preparations for children.
*Calendula can be used externally in creams and ointments in dosages of 2 – 5 g calendula per 100 g cream or ointment.
*For homeopathic dosages, consult a licensed homeopath.

*Infusion: 1 tsp (5 – 10 g) dried florets in 8 oz (250 mL) water; steep 10 – 15 minutes; drink two to three cups per day
*Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 – 1.0 mL three times per day
*Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 5 – 10 drops (1 – 2 mL) three times per day
*Ointment: 2 – 5% calendula; apply 3 – 4 times per day as needed




Calendula is generally considered safe for topical application. It should not be applied to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision. People who are sensitive to plants in the daisy or aster family, including chrysanthemums and ragweed, may also have an allergic reaction to calendula (usually a skin rash).
Calendula is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Theoretically, calendula may affect conception when taken by a man or woman, so couples trying to get pregnant should not use calendula. *


*In animal studies, calendula has had effects on the uterus, and calendula has traditionally been thought to have harmful effects on sperm and to cause abortions. However, it is not clear if these effects occur with use of calendula on the skin.

For information on possible food/drug interactions, try here…,3926,4092|Calendula%2Bofficinalis,00.html

Magickal Properties:

Planet: Sun
Element: Fire

Correspondences: prophetic dreams, protection, respect, legal matters,
Hang a calendula wreath, bouquet or garland over entry doors to prevent evil from entering.  Scatter petals under the bed for prophetic dreams and for protection while sleeping.  Carry calendula petals into court for favorable legal proceedings.  Take a bath in calendula infused water to receive an extra dose of respect and admiration. 

Other Uses:

*Simmer massive amounts of calendula for a long period of time, replacing the flowers periodically, to produce a lovely yellow dye.
*Feed laying chickens calendula flowers and the egg yolks will be a deep yellow color.
*Use in a footbath on swollen feet or as an eyewash on sore, tired eyes.
*Use a calendula tincture as hair rinse to reduce dandruff.
*Plant in the garden to repel pests and attract beneficial insects.
*Great for dry and fresh flower arrangements.
*Sprinkle petals or young leaves over a salad, or add petals to soups for a nice added color and some extra vitamins.
*Mash calendula into a paste with some water and massage onto areas with varicose veins to reduce their severity.
*Petals can be used to color homemade butter and cheese, as they were used in the 17-1800s.
*Use as a substitute for saffron—it’s cheaper…

A note on baby’s butts…
Chamomile, Lavender, Yarrow and Calendula infused oil is fantastic for preventing and healing diaper rash.  There are many such combinations of these herbs (either as infused oils, tinctures, powders, washes, etc) in addition to other herbs and essential oils that can be used in a variety of ways for infants. 

Recipes, Formulae and Spells:

Calendula oils, ointments, Salves and crèmes:

Calendula Souffle
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
dash nutmeg
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar, cut into small pieces
10 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup calendula petals
Spread butter inside a 5 cup souffle dish.  Sprinkle with the 2
tablespoons Parmesan.
Beat eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, half and half, mustard, salt, cayenne
and nutmeg in a blender until smooth.  While motor is still running,
add Cheddar piece by piece, then the cream cheese.  Pour into
prepared dish and stir in calendula petals.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 375F, or until top is golden brown
and slightly cracked.  Serve immediately, garnishing with more
calendula blossoms.

Calendula Wine

2 oz. dried calendula petals
1 lb 14 oz granulated sugar
4 tsp acid blend
1 finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet
7-1/2 pts water
1-1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 sachet Lalvin EC-1118 wine yeast
Put 3 pints water on to boil. Dissolve sugar in water. Put petals in nylon straining bag with 3-4 glass marbles, tie closed and put in primary. Pour boiling water over petals. Add remaining water, acid blend and yeast nutrient. Cover primary and set aside to cool. When at room temperature, add Campden tablet (finely crushed and dissolved in some water), recover primary, and set aside for 10-12 hours. Add activated yeast. Recover primary. When specific gravity drops to 1.015 or lower, transfer to secondary fermentation vessel and attach airlock. Recipe makes slightly more than one gallon so put extra in small sanitized bottle (use later for topping up) and attach airlock (#3 bung fits all wine bottles down to 125 mL). Wait until all fermentation ceases and airlock is still for two weeks, then rack into clean secondary, top up and refit airlock. Wait additional 30 days and add another finely crushed and dissolved Campden tablet and 1/3 teaspoon potassium sorbate to clean secondary, rack wine onto it, top up and refit airlock. Wait 30 days, sweeten to 1.006 s.g. or to taste, and bottle. Wait two months before tasting for bouquet to develop.

Calendula Fruit Bread

3   eggs      
2/3   C. vegetable oil      
3   C. unbleached white flour      
2   Tbs. pure vanilla extract      
2   C. grated apple      
2   C. toasted, chopped walnuts         
1   tsp. cinnamon      
1   tsp. nutmeg      
1   C. currants      
2   tsp. baking soda      
2   C. brown sugar      
1/2   tsp. salt      
1   tsp. baking powder      
1   C. loosely packed calendula blossoms            
1/2   tsp. allspice      
1/2   tsp. ground cloves      

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 x 5″ loaf pans. In a bowl mix flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Blend well. Combine eggs, oil, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until well blended and frothy. Add dry mixture to egg mixture, stir. Mix fruit, nuts and calendula blossoms into batter & stir just until blended. Pour into loaf pans and bake for about 1 hr, 35 min. You may pour 4 Tbs rum or brandy over loaf while warm if desired. Can be frozen, or allowed to age for a week in refrigerator.

Calendula Custard

2 cups milk
1/3 cup unsprayed calendula petals
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1 to 2-inch piece vanilla bean
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. rose water
Heavy whipped cream

Using a clean mortar and pestle, pound marigold petals or crush them with a fork. Mix the salt, sugar and spices together. Scald milk with the marigolds and the vanilla bean. Remove the vanilla bean and add the slightly beaten yolks and dry ingredients. Cook on low heat. When the mixture coats a spoon, add rose water and cool.

Top with whipped cream, garnish with fresh marigold petals (optional).




5 thoughts on “Calendula”

  1. Cipollina said:

    Great recipes! 😀

    I think the Danish name for Calendula is the most beautiful: morgenfrue = Morning Lady = a ‘ heite’ (aspect name) for Frøya. 🙂

  2. What an utterly delicious blog to have landed upon in my search to learn more about a specific herb. Thank you for a most enjoyable visit!


  3. Rosamond Ockey said:

    Earache can be really annoying but i usually take some pain killers and antibiotics to manage it.,

    Consider our very own blog site too

  4. Hi Mrs Kitchen Witch! Wow, what a thorough post on Calendula! Thank you for all the information and resource links. The recipes look yummy, I’ll have to try adapting them to remove allergens (gluten, dairy, eggs). Here’s where I get my organic Calendula
    if anyone is looking for a reliable source in the US.

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