- Name also: Common Marigold, Garden Marigold, Ruddles, English Marigold, Scottish Marigold
- Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
(formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
- Growing form: Annual herb.
- Height: 20–50 cm (8–20 in.). Stem ascending–erect, hairy all over, also glandular-hairy. Repulsive smell.
- Flower: Flowers form 4–7 cm (1.6–3 in.) wide, single flower-like capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitulum’s yellow–orange–reddish yellow ray-florets tongue-like, 3-toothed at tip; disk florets yellow–brownish, tubular, small (sometimes all flowers tongue-like). Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts 2 rows, virtually linear. Capitula solitary, terminating the stem.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalked–stalkless, lower stalks winged, upper leaves amplexicaul. Blade narrowly obovate–narrowly elliptic, roundish–gently tapering tip, with entire margins–sparsely toothed, hairy.
- Fruit: Long-beaked or curved, spine-backed achene.
- Habitat: Roadsides, rubbish tips, waste ground, lawns, flower beds. Ornamental, escape.
- Flowering time: June–October.
Pot marigold grows ferally in southern Europe, but it is difficult to pinpoint its true home. In Finland it is a popular summer flower and sometimes it also grows wild. Cultivated flowers are mostly orange with a wild origin and differently coloured cultivated varieties.
Pot marigold has been an important medicine in folk healing already in Ancient Greece, Rome and Arabia. The most familiar use of pot marigold is as a skin treatment. Pot marigold preparations are used for treating e.g. minor wounds, callouses, eczema, itches, burns, insect bites and stings, and haemmoroids. The carotenes in pot marigold promotes the renewal of surface tissue and its antibacterial properties prevent infections. The power of pot marigold has also been harnessed in beauty therapy, and it is used in lotions, creams and other cosmetics. As a rinse for the hair, pot marigold gives a golden tinge to fair hair: in fact it was used already by Viking women to dye their hair hundreds of years ago. In the animal world, it has also been used at least to beautify canaries’ feathers. Pot marigold has also been used to dye textiles yellow. The plant has many essential oils and so it has been used as an ingredient in perfumes.
Pot marigold also makes a very pleasant tea in small doses, and its abundant ray-florets suit different kinds of food. At its best pot marigold’s colour is close to saffron, and it is also used as a substitute for this esteemed spice. In large doses however pot marigold tastes unpleasant. The leaves can be added to salads, and at their best they taste sweet, although they are often bitter. Additionally, as a companion plant it attracts pollen beetles and repels nematodes from the soil. Pot marigold capitula do not open normally when the air pressure drops, so they can be used as a crude barometer – highly versatile indeed!
Field marigold (also known as wild marigold) is quite common species in Central and South Europe. In Finland it is very rare and can be seen only occasionally. It is smaller and more modest than its popular cousin.