Calendula officinalis is one of my favorite plants to grow and use. A part of the Asteraceae family this cheerful plant originated in Egypt and the Mediterranean but is now cultivated globally Mills, S., The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism, p. 145.
It’s hard not to gush about this colorful, self-seeding annual. Calendula officinalis can grow quite tall, produce bright orange flowers, and is often used in companion vegetable planting.
I find my use of calendula varies. Last year, I focused on its topical use and made oils and salves. So far, I’ve been mainly drinking it as an anti-inflammatory tea this year.
Constituents: carotenoids, resin, and also flavonoids are a few
Parts Used: flowers
Actions: vulnerary (wound healing), emmenagogue, diaphoretic, alterative, astringent, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory,
Preparations: tincture, infusion, or externally as lotions, creams, or salves.
Uses: Externally for healing, such as an eyewash, wounds, bruising, hemorrhoids, and skin ulcers. Internally for digestive complaints as well as menstruation regulation. It’s often an ingredient in many herbal products from serums, lotions, and even mouthwashes.
Safety: It is an emmenagogue. Michael Tierra cautions against internal use during pregnancy in his book The Way of Herbs.
Calendula officinalis Growing and Harvesting Tips
Garden Know How shares useful tips for growing your perfect patch of calendula.
My amateur advice would be to start with a packet of seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds. I had at least 20 self-seeded plants this spring in my garden. I planted more in pots from seeds saved from last year, and they all came up! My grandfather calls them aliens since they grew so tall this year.
I used to pick the flowers every time I go to the garden, but I’m trying only to harvest once or twice a week to get larger batches at a time. The more you pick, the better and leave some for the garden if you want them to self-seed.
Recipes, Research, and Reading
I found this lovely calendula and peppermint lip balm recipe from Artisane through Instagram this week.
These Calendula and Thyme Shortbread Cookies from Grow Forage Cook Ferment look delicious. I’m planning to try it gluten-free.
I’m keen to research Calendula officinalis and St. John’s Wort topically for shingles. In the meantime, these three great herb books helped craft my calendula monograph:
- Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman
- The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism by Simon Y. Mills
- The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra
Calendula officinalis is the type of herb you want to keep on hand since it’s incredibly versatile! Previously, I shared my monograph for marshmallow, which also has many uses. Next Friday, it will be all about chamomile.
What has been your experience with calendula? Share your recipes or harvesting tips below!