Calendula – Calendula officinalis
Calendula’s lovely, sunshine-like blossoms are a highlight of any garden, and it eagerly spreads its warm presence around by self-seeding beyond its original confines. Calendula is native to Southern Europe, but is now widespread, being naturalized in North America and cultivated in gardens all around the world. It is perennial in warmer regions, growing up to 20 inches/50 cm in height, bearing alternate, oblong lance shaped leaves with a bit of hairiness to their 3-6 inch/7-15cm length. Calendula’s flowers vary in colour from bright oranges to lighter yellows, and have the very classic appearance of disk and ray arrangement, not unlike a daisy. It grows in full sunlight or dappled shade, Calendula is most often cultivated in pots or garden beds, but is also often found nearby gardens as an escapee.
Harvesting: The blossoms can be collected continuously throughout the season, dried, infused in oils, tinctured, and more. The leaves can be used alongside the flowers too, but are best used fresh.
Uses: Perhaps most well known for its topical applications, Calendula is indeed prolific in healing skin conditions, whether rashes, dermatitis, eczema, bruises, acne, burns, stings, wounds, or abrasions, due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant effects. It is also a wonderful support to the lymphatic system. And it is considered an herbal support for oral health, soothing gum inflammation and gingivitis. And once cooled, a strong herbal infusion can be used as an eyewash for soothing conjunctivitis. Its preparations are almost endless: extracts of all kinds, oils, salves, balms, tea, bath herbs, poultices, and more. It is an all around safe, gentle, highly effective herb, only at risk to those with allergies to the Asteraceae family, who may develop a sensitivity or rash with topical use.
Actions: Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiseptic, Anti-Spasmodic, Choleretic, Vulnerary
Taste: Salty, Sweet
Energy: Warming, Gently Stimulating
Botanical Design: “Herbs Coloring Book” – Stefen Bernath
I hope you enjoyed this short herbal monograph! Head back to the Herbalism page for more ways to study herbs and their properties, actions, preparations, and traditional use in day-to-day living, or look up a few more herbal mini-monographs and read about another plant in depth.
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