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(Calendula officinalis LINN.)
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Botanical: Calendula officinalis (LINN.)
---Synonyms---Caltha officinalis. Golds. Ruddes. Mary Gowles. Oculus Christi. Pot Marigold. Marygold. Fiore d'ogni mese. Solis Sponsa.
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Parts Used---Flowers, herb, leaves.
The Common Marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in bloom on the calends of every month, hence its Latin name, and one of the names by which it is known in Italy - fiore d'ogni mese - countenances this derivation. It was not named after the Virgin, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-meargealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary.
- ---History---It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe Herball, 1578) says:
- 'It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising.'
- Linnaeus assigned a narrower limit to the expansion of its flowers, observing that they are open from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon. This regular expansion and closing of the flowers attracted early notice, and hence the plant acquired the names of solsequia and solis sponsa. There is an allusion to this peculiarity in the poems of Rowley:
- 'The Mary-budde that shooteth (shutteth) with the light.'
It has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers, which are dried for broth, and said to comfort the heart and spirits.
- And in the Winter's Tale:
- 'The Marigold that goes to bed wi' th' sun,
- And with him rises weeping.'
Formerly its flowers were used to give cheese a yellow colour.
- Fuller writes: 'We all know the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the Herbe Generalle in all pottage.' (Antheologie, 1655.) Stevens, in Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme (1699), mentions the Marigold as a specific for headache, jaundice, red eyes, toothache and ague. The dried flowers are still used among the peasantry 'to strengthen and comfort the hart.' He says further:
- 'Conserve made of the flowers and sugar, taken in the morning fasting, cureth the trembling of the harte, and is also given in the time of plague or pestilence. The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold.'
'It must be taken only when the moon is in the Sign of the Virgin and not when Jupiter is in the ascendant, for then the herb loses its virtue. And the gatherer, who must be out of deadly sin, must say three Pater Nosters and three Aves. It will give the wearer a vision of anyone who has robbed him.'
- In Macer's Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out of the head and strengthen the eyesight.
- 'Golde [Marigold] is bitter in savour
- Fayr and zelw [yellow] is his flowur
- Ye golde flour is good to sene
- It makyth ye syth bryth and clene
- Wyscely to lokyn on his flowres
- Drawyth owt of ye heed wikked hirores
- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Loke wyscely on golde erly at morwe [morning]
- Yat day fro feures it schall ye borwe:
- Ye odour of ye golde is good to smelle.'
- From Eleanour Sinclair Rohde's Old English Herbals:
- 'Of marygold we learn that Summe use to make theyr here yelow with the floure of this herbe, not beyng contet with the naturall colour which God hath geven the.'
- Gerard speaks of:
- 'The fruitful or much-bearing marigold, . . . is likewise called Jackanapes-on-horsebacke: it hath leaves stalkes and roots like the common sort of marigold, differing in the shape of his floures; for this plant doth bring forth at the top of the stalke one floure like the other marigolds, from which start forth sundry other small floures, yellow likewise and of the same fashion as the first; which if I be not deceived commeth to pass per accidens, or by chance, as Nature often times liketh to play with other flowers; or as children are borne with two thumbes on one hande or such like; which living to be men do get children like unto others: even so is the seed of this Marigold, which if it be sowen it brings forth not one floure in a thousand like the plant from whence it was taken.'
- Culpepper says it is a:
- 'herb of the Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog's-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or not.'
---Cultivation---The Marigold is a native of south Europe, but perfectly hardy in this country, and easy to grow. Seeds sown in April, in any soil, in sunny, or half-sunny places germinate freely. They require no other cultivation but to keep them clean from weeds and to thin out where too close, leaving them 9 to 10 inches apart, so that their branches may have room to spread. The plants will begin to flower in June, and continue flowering until the frost kills them. They will increase from year to year, if allowed to seed themselves. The seeds ripen in August and September, and if permitted to scatter will furnish a supply of young plants in the spring.
Only the common deep orange-flowered variety is of medinical value.
---Parts Used---The flowers and leaves.
Leaves. - Gather only in fine weather, in the morning, after the dew has been dried by the sun. Flowers. - The ray florets are used and need quick drying in the shade, in a good current of warm air, spread out on sheets of paper, loosely, without touching each other, or they will become discoloured.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Marigold is chiefly used as a local remedy. Its action is stimulant and diaphoretic. Given internally, it assists local action and prevents suppuration. The infusion of 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water is given internally, in doses of a tablespoonful, and externally as a local application. It is useful in chronic ulcer, varicose veins, etc. Was considered formerly to have much value as an aperient and detergent in visceral obstructions and jaundice.
It has been asserted that a Marigold flower, rubbed on the affected part, is an admirable remedy for the pain and swelling caused by the sting of a wasp or bee. A lotion made from the flowers is most useful for sprains and wounds, and a water distilled from them is good for inflamed and sore eyes.
An infusion of the freshly-gathered flowers is employed in fevers, as it gently promotes perspiration and throws out any eruption - a decoction of the flowers is much in use in country districts to bring out smallpox and measles, in the same manner as Saffron. Marigold flowers are in demand for children's ailments.
The leaves when chewed at first communicate a viscid sweetness, followed by a strong penetrating taste, of a saline nature. The expressed juice, which contains the greater part of this pungent matter, has been given in cases of costiveness and proved very efficacious. Snuffed up the nose it excites sneezing and a discharge of mucous from the head.
The leaves, eaten as a salad, have been considered useful in the scrofula of children, and the acrid qualities of the plant have caused it to be recommended as an extirpator of warts.
A yellow dye has also been extracted from the flower, by boiling.
---Preparations and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
Common Name Index
Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.
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