Medicinal Calendula flowers are generally more important for external applications than
internal use. The German Office of Health endorses calendula for reducing inflammations
of the skin and mucous membranes, lacerations, contusions, and burns. The flowers are used to make infusions, tinctures and ointments and are a common ingredient in salves. Calendula used in an ointment, salve or cream may be more effective for healing cuts, sunburns, diaper rash, bedsores, ulcers, chapped dry skin and lips, and insect bites. Directly rubbing a calendula petal on bee and wasp stings is said to relieve the pain and swelling.
Gargling with calendula tea may relieve mouth sores and sore throats. Drinking calendula tea is recommended to treat ulcers in the digestive tract and gallbladder inflammations. According to pharmacognoist Mannfried Pahlow, tea made from calendula flowers is helpful in treating gallbladder complaints, but peppermint leaves are more effective. He thought that the inclusion of calendula in various tea blends was probably based more on its pretty golden-yellow color rather than any curative power.
To make a tea or infusion to treat cuts: Pour a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of dry      petals and steep it for 10 minutes. Soak a cotton or gauze pad in the infusion and apply      it as a compress.
To make an ointment: Crush fresh flowers and mixing them with olive oil. Dab the ointment      directly onto the cut.
To make a powder: Mix dried and ground flowers with arrowroot powder, cornstarch, or      talc.
To make a salve: Add dried, ground calendula flowers to most salves and creams.
Calendula flowers can be dried and ground into a powder that substitutes for saffron. The powder gives a similar color, but different taste than saffron. It is used like saffron to season seafood, chowders, rice, stews, roast meats, chicken and mixed into herb butter. Instead of adding the ground petals directly, the petals can be soaked in water or milk, and the strained liquid used for coloring and flavoring. The petals must be cut or well bruised to give off color. Fresh flower petals can be sprinkled on tossed salads. When you pull off the petal, cut off the white or light green heels which taste bitter.
Cosmetic A hair rinse made from calendula petals will bring out highlight in blonde
and brunette hair. Dried petals can be mixed into homemade soap giving it nice flecks
Ornamental Calendulas are primarily valued for the cheerful daisy-like flowers rather than for culinary or medical use. These long-blooming, old-fashioned garden annuals with vivid colors have been dubbed "the queen of cottage gardens". They are very pretty planted at the base of young trees, along borders, and in containers. The foliage is light green and hairy and the flowers close at night. The cut flowers are sturdy, long lasting and dry nicely. Plant breeders have developed dwarf plants, plants with long flower stalks, large and fully double flower heads, flower heads with dark centers, quilled and bicolor petals. The color range has been extended to include white, creams, lemon yellow, apricots, deep orange, pink and red tones. If you want a plant for culinary use also, plant the classic "Pacific Beauty", which has large easy-to-use petals. If you want to use the calendulas for medical purposes, plant the original yellow-flowering cultivar or one bred for high resin content such as "Erfurter Orangefarbige" or "Resina". Yellow calendulas often mutate to orange and orange flowers mutate to yellow.
Culture Calendulas like full sun, but can be grown in partial shade. They prefer a moderately fertile soil with average drainage. The plants may be weaker with fewer flowers in extremely fertile soil. Sow seeds about 1/2 inch deep as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Thin or space transplants 12 to 15 inches apart. Removing the side branches will encourage the plant to grow taller and produce larger blooms. Calendulas are very productive plants and flower over a long season. Regularly removing the spent flowers will extend the bloom season and will reduce the number of volunteer seedlings the next year. Aphids and other pests can attack the flower heads when they are open. To combat this, you may need to pick the flowers frequently so there is little time for feeding. Calendulas are tough, cool season plants that will survive and continue blooming through frosts and light snow.
Harvest For fresh culinary use: Harvest the flower heads as they are opening. Pick off the petals and cut off the bitter white or greenish heel. Wash the petals gently and drain.
For dry culinary use: Wash and gently dry the whole flowers, pluck the petals and remove the white heels, spread the petals on a paper towel and dry them in the shade. Use paper because the petals stick to screens when they are dried. Overlapping the petals may cause discoloration. You can also dry the petals in a barely warm oven with the door ajar to allow moisture to escape. The petals suck up moisture readily and should be stored in an airtight container away from heat and light. A couple of tablespoons of dried milk wrapped in a double layer of Kleenex tissue can be added to the container as a desiccant.
For medical use: The flowers should be picked during the hottest part of the day when the moisture content is lowest and the resin content is highest. Collect flower heads that are just opening to fully opened, pull off the petals and quickly dry them in a 120 F oven with the door ajar. If you want to store the entire flower head with petals intact, you need 5 to 7 days at 120 F to dry them. The petals dry fast, but the green receptacle is slower to dry. The flowers need to be completely dried before storing or they may mold. Store the flowers where they will be protected from moisture and light.
Caution Individuals with ragweed allergies may experience a bad reaction to calendula.
Other Common Names bull flower, butterwort, care, common marigold, cowbloom, death-flower, drunkard, English marigold, garden marigold, gold, golden flower of May, gouls, goulans, kingcups, holygold, marigold, marybud, marygold, poet's marigold, publican and sinner, ruddles, Scotch marigold, shining herb, solsequia, summer's bride, water dragon, yolk of egg.
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