Calendula officinalis, the Pot Marigold is native to central Europe and the Mediterranean.
It’s common name, “marigold” is most likely derived from its association with the Virgin Mary and its Latin name Calendula comes from the Latin word Kalendae, “first day of the month” in the Roman calendar possibly because it can be found in flower at the beginning of most months of the year.
It was used in ancient Greece and Rome and in early Indian and Arabic cultures. Because of its excellent antiseptic, healing and detoxifying properties it is a major herb in modern Western medicine.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to colour foods, fabrics and cosmetics, as well as for medicinal purposes.
Its petals can be used as a substitute for saffron in soups and rice dishes as well as used fresh in salads. When infused it can add colour to dairy products such as cheese, butter and milk desserts.
Calendula is a hardy annual which self seeds profusely. Removing dead flowerheads will prolong flowering and help to control self seeding if desired. Because it is hardy, seeds can be sown in situ in either spring or autumn. There are a few pests and diseases that you should look out for namely powdery mildew (as you can see in the photograph, mine have succumbed), rust, cucumber mosaic virus and caterpillars.
This is such an easy flower to grow and one of my all time favourites. Mine are setting seed which I’ll be collecting for next year’s crop.