Calendula (ca LEN du la) from the Latin word calendae meaning the first day of the month
The genus Calendula is a member of the family Asteraceae and includes 15-20 annuals and herbaceous perennials. The generic name is derived from the fact that many of the genus bloom for a long time, that is, on the first day of many months. The plants have single or double daisy-like flower heads made up of yellow or orange ray flowers surrounding a center of yellow, orange, purple or brown disc flowers.
The best-known Calendua is C. officianalis, the pot marigold that was commonly thrown in the stew or soup pot by German women, a practice that led to its common name. Calendula was also used over the centuries to add color and/or flavor to a variety of foods including pudding, dumplings, and wine. Calendula flowers are delicious in salads and can be used as a substitute for saffron.
Calendula’s popularity today is due to the attractiveness of the flower both in the garden ad as a cut flower. It is easily grown from seed and thrives in full sun to light shade and average, well-drained soil. In warm climates Calendula may die out but can be cut back to encourage new growth when cool temperatures return. To harvest the f lowers, pinch off the flower heads and then separate all the ray flowers and dry them on paper in the shade. The petals are very hygroscopic and must be storied in moisture-proof containers to preserve the color and flavor.