Calendula (pronounced ca-lend-ula), is the herb of the year for 2008. It is not very well know because it doesn’t grow well around here. Several years ago I planted seed flats of several different colors of calendula only to have most of them wilt away in the spring heat. The few that survived were moved to pots and set out to sell. They didn’t sell so I moved some to shady areas in the herb beds and others into big pots in the greenhouse. The calendula in the greenhouse blossomed and reseeded onto the cedar mulch paths and flourished. That’s when I discovered the secret to growing beautiful calendula. Lots of cedar mulch in rich moist beds completely protected from spring and summer winds.
Calendula is better known as pot marigold. This pretty flower in shades of orange and yellow has a reputation of healing all sorts of skin problems. It is a remarkable antiaging herb. Marie Treben, an Austrian herbalist, said: It belongs to the plants which are beneficial in cancer and cancerlike growths. Gathering the flowers, stems and leaves should occur in bright sunshine when its healing powers are at their best. Calendula works on infectious hepatitis. It cleanses, stimulates circulation and helps heal wounds.
A man accidentally put his hand in a circular saw. His pain was severe. When he put calendula salve on the wound, the pain went away and the wound healed quickly. His wife now plants calendula in her gardens every year.
A woman with varicose veins covering her legs was told to smear calendula ointment on cotton cloth and wrap it around her legs. In four weeks the varicose veins had disappeared. Both legs had nice smooth skin. The ointment brings relief in phlebitis, varicose veins, frost bites and burns. It is also excellent for athlete’s foot, wounds, bruises and sprains, even for festering or cancer-like sores, bedsores, ulcers and swellings. Strawberry marks covered with the juice of fresh pressed calendula petals several times a day can make the birthmarks disappear; the same goes for pigment spots and brown spots caused by sun damage or poor diets while aging. A women that travels the world lecturing says her secret to always being fresh faced in front of TV cameras in spite of long flights and jet lag says she slathers her face with calendula cream before putting on her makeup.
Calendula tea is beneficial for gastro-intestinal disorders, stomach cramps and stomach ulcers, as well as inflammation of the large intestine, and blood in the urine. It is an excellent remedy for the liver. The juice of the fresh stem gets rid of warts and scabies, the boiled infusion heals herpes and glandular swellings. Bathe the eyes in lukewarm calendula tea to strengthen.
Dr. James Duke, retired botonist for the USDA, tell us that calendula flowers speed up the healing of burns, including sunburn, by closing wounds, reducing inflammation and stimulating the growth of new skin cells. Creams and ointments are available in stores or we can grow calendula and make our own. The seeds germinate quickly in pots or directly in soil protected from wind. Plant after the last spring freeze. Thinnings can be easily transplanted to other areas in the gardens.
Calendula is often called the rain flower. If the blossom closes before 7 a.m. it will surely rain that day.
Listen to Jo Anne Boudreau on “Herb Talk” Thursday morning from 8 to 9 on KMQX 88.5, 89.5, K2497.7, K72AZ.93.3, KSQX 89.1 FM Radio and ww.KYQX.com