An annual herb grown in gardens since the Middle Ages for its bright-orange or yellow single or double flowers, which are decorative from summer until autumn. The basal leaves are spathulate and stalked, the stem leaves lanceolate, alternate and sessile. All parts of the plant are roughly hairy. The terminal and solitary flowerheads have sterile, tubular discflorets and fertile, ligulate, spreading rayflorets. The fruit is a rough, curved achene.
Pot Marigold is native to southern Europe but it is easily grown in the British Isles and it often escapes on to waste ground. The botanical name Calendula, a diminutive of the Latin word Calendae (= first day of the month) meaning 'little clock', refers to the plant's habit of flowering all year round in the wild. The double forms with bright-orange flowers have the highest concentration of active ingredients and these varieties are grown for medicinal purposes on the Continent. The plant is still used in herbal medicine but not as often as it once was. The flowers have been used as a colouring agent.
Either the whole flowerheads or just the ray-florets are used medicinally. Among the constituents are an essential oil, pigments (carotenoids), bitter compounds, saponins, flavonoid glycosides, mucilage and resin. These give Pot Marigold vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, choleretic and antispasmodic properties. It is not often used internally nowadays, but extracts, tinctures and ointments are sometimes used externally to heal stubborn wounds, bedsores, persistent ulcers, varicose veins, bruises, gum inflammations and skin rashes. It is an excellent mouthwash after tooth extraction. Pot Marigold is probably more often-used in complexion creams and lotions for cleansing, softening and soothing the skin. In the pharmaceutical industry the bright-orange pigments in the flowers are used to make medicinal preparations more attractive.
Flowering time: June to September