History: Calendula (Calendula officinalis) also known as “pot marigold” is a native of the Mediterranean and Iran. It has been distributed around the world as a garden plant. This sunny little flower – the “merrybuds” of Shakespeare was first used in Indian and Arabic cultures, before being discovered by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The Egyptians valued the calendula as a rejuvenating herb and the Greeks garnished and flavored food
with the petals. The botanical name comes from the Latin calendae, meaning the first day of the month. In India, wreaths of calendula were used to
crown the gods and goddesses. In medieval times, the leaves were considered an emblem of love. To dream of calendula wreaths was a sign of all good
things. During the Civil War, calendula leaves were used on the battlefield to treat open wounds.
Cultivation: Calendula is a hardy annual with a height and spread of 24 in. that grows in all zones. It has daisy-like yellow or orange flowers. Seeds can be sown in the ground or in containers in spring. Calendula prefers a sunny location and welldrained soil. Flowers should be dead-headed to promote more blooms. Flowers should be picked just as they open in summer for fresh use and drying.
Uses: Calendula petals may be used as a culinary dye in butter, oil and cheese and as a “poor man’s saffron” in rice. They are also lovely in salads and omelets and make an interesting cup of tea. They can also be used in baking. The leaves can be used in salads. There are many skin and cosmetic
preparations that contain calendula. The flowers also contain antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties that promote healing so they are used medicinally as well.
— Janet Lindsteadt