The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Calendula Flower

Botanical Name:
"Calendula officinalis" "skin care" lotion salveCalendula officinalis


Common Names:
Marigold, Pot Marigold
These common names can be confusing and imprecise so always check the botanical name before using.

Part Used for Medicine:

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
Calendula is found only as a culitvated flower in the Southwest. It is generally considered to be a very easy flower to grow. It does best with improved soil and extra water. An annual, it re-seeds freely in the right conditions. Frequent picking of the flowers encourages more growth.
If purchasing the dried flower, the deep orange-yellow color is a sign of quality.
If picking fresh flowers, the stickier (resin) the better.

Energy & Tastes:
Slightly warming (encourages healing by increasing blood flow to the skin)

Preferred Method of Preparation:
For external use, prepare it as an herbal oil in a crockpot and then process as desired into a salve or lotion.
For internal use, my preferred preparation is a tea for either drinking or a topical wash.
A poultice can be made with either the dry or fresh blooms.
The fresh flower can also be simply added to a wide variety of foods and eaten.
If making a tincture, one needs to do a double maceration to achieve the standard 1:5 ratio.

Herbal Actions:
Vulnerary & Anti-inflammatory for the skin and mucous membranes
Lymph tonic, especially for non-gaseous digestive bloating after meals
Mildly anti – fungal & bacterial

Therapeutic Uses:
Calendula is one of my most used herbs for the skin – both the external skin and the “internal skin” of the mucous membranes. It is included in many salve formulas and skin lotion. The warming, blood moving properties assist in many types of wound healing. Some possibilities are: rash, sunburn, lip balm,  scrapes, diaper rash and eczema.

The same skin healing qualities can be helpful in many types of GI inflammation. See below for one possible formula.

Some people make the mistake of thinking a flower is not as strong a medicine as a root or other plant part. Don’t be fooled. This flower is what I call “Big Medicine” and an herb I always have on hand.

Herbal Combos:
For a general healing salve, combine with Comfrey
For a trauma salve, combine with Hypericum and Arnica
For anti-fungal salve or wash, combine with Larrea or Salvia apiana
For excess heat or inflammation in the GI tract, combine with equal parts Matricaria, Mentha,  Foenuculum and Althea as a tea.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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