Marigold is such an optimistic flower, just the look of the orange flowers makes you cheerful. We know this lovely bright orange and yellow flowers of Marigold from our gardens, but the plant was also a treasured member of the herbaceous beds in the medieval kloster gardens. The monks used it for many things, like in a tea as a means against nausea and constipation; a decoction from fresh and dried flowers was used in dressing wounds, boils and exemia - and an essence from the flowers eased inflamed eyes.
The Latin name Calendula means calender, meaning the first day of the month, referring to that the flowers open and close during the day marking the move of the sun; the name officinalis shows that the plant was recorded in the pharmacopoeia in the 1700s. The common name Marigold probably refers to Virgin Mary or the old Saxon name "ymbglidegold", which means " it turns with the sun". Shakespeare has not forgotten Marigold in his sonnets.
Marigold is mentioned in the earliest medicinal writings in China, which are over 5000 years old. The plant - as we know it in Europe today - comes from the Mediterranean, where it grows wild. In the American Civil War were flowers used for healing the soldiers' wounds.
The essence from dried flowers in oil is used against exemia and as a sore-healer in cosmetics. It is said to impede the growth of hair, so it's not advisable for men with a growing moon, but if you are a blonde you can lighten your hair with by washing it in a Marigold-decoction. Marigold is also used in dyeing.
The yellow colour of the flower made people believe that a flower-tea from Marigold was effective against jaundice. The Egyptians regarded the flower as a herb of rejuvenation. In the Middle Ages was Marigold considered a magic herb and used in love-rites, among other things telling the young girls the name of their future husband. To dream about Marigold meant that everything was okay - and if you just looked at the flower then all evil would diseappear.
Marigold belongs to the sun and the lion. Among the flowers you can see the elfs.
The young leaves can be used in salads and stowage. They contain minerals and vitamins like dandelion-leaves. The flowers can be used for almost everything, both fresh and dried. They are used in the same way as the leaves and as a substitute for saffron, bringing colour to rice and fish dishes. The taste is subtle, but promotes the taste of the dish. The flowers are used in salads, casseroles, soups, sauce, herb-butter, omelets and baking. So Marigold is not just good-looking - it's rather useful.
Source: Anemette Olesen, Danske Klosterurter,2001.
photo: grethe bachmann