Marigold

Author: Hon A/Prof Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1999.

Common name: Marigold, Pot Marigold, English Marigold, Marygold, Golds, Ruddes, Mary Gowles, Fiore d'ogni mese, Solis Sponsa, Caltha officinalis, Oculus Christi.
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis
Family: Compositae/Asteraceae (daisy/aster family)
Origin: The plant is a native of southern Europe but flourishes in cool, temperate climates.
Description: This hardy annual grows to a height of about 20-50 cm. It has pale-green leaves and bright yellow or golden orange flowers. The petals have a pungent, spicy flavour and the leaves have a bitter aftertaste.
Uses: It was well known as a garden-flower and for use in both cookery and medicine. The petals, with their slight aromatic bitterness are used in fish and meat soups, rice dishes, salads, and as a colouring for cheese and butter. The whole flower was used as a garnish in medieval times. An infusion of the petals can be used as a rinse to lighten and brighten hair. The petals also make a nourishing cream for the skin. Pot marigold makes an attractive cut flower and can be grown in the vegetable garden to help with insect control. The plant yields oil that may be used in perfumery.
Allergens: The allergen(s) is not clear, in half of reports it maybe a sesquiterpene lactone.
Allergy: Irritancy has been reported both to the plant itself and to a tincture/oil made from it. A positive patch test reaction to an extract of Calendula officinalis was observed in a florist who was also sensitised to Tanacetum parthenium. One recent study showed that 2% of over 400 patients were allergic to Calendula officinalis. Sensitisation appeared to be associated with medicinal use of the plant.
Cross reactions: Tanacetum parthenium. Other Compositae.
Other information: The Common Marigold 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’. 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. Linnaeus observed that Marigolds were 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’.
Patch test: Leaf and flower as is, sesquiterpene lactone, compositae mix.

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