Calendula officinalis - the garden marigold

The garden marigold is an old, cultivated, medicinal and ornamental plant mentioned back in the 12th century in the writings of the Saint Hildegard von Bingen.


The marigold has long been described as having positive effects on skin function due to its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects. It is primarily used to manage poorly healing wounds, burns and varicose veins. However, calendula preparations are also important for skincare purposes, where they are used as tonics as well as for protecting sensitive skin. Allergic reactions are rare compared to other members of the Asteraceae family.

In popular belief, the marigold kindled fantasy in all nations: it was often used in love potions. By planting the marigold in the footsteps of her loved one, a girl could bind him to her forever.


Calendula officinalis L. belongs to the composite, or Asteraceae, family. The plant grows to about 50 cm in height and has downy to glandular hairs, explaining its balsamic/resinous aroma. The flower heads, which measure 2 to 5 cm and are orange/yellow to golden yellow in colour, appear up to two times per year (flowering in early summer and autumn).

The flower head consists of a green involucral bract as well as ray or ligulate florets and inner florets known as tubular florets. In the medicinal plant plots of DHU, a very traditional, simple flowering form is planted. Fruits are produced only by the ligulate flowers.

The German term for the marigold, “Ringelblume”, refers to the unique, curved fruits. In botany, the production of more than one kind of fruit in a plant is referred to as heterocarpy. This enables marigolds to spread in the most diverse manner and develop new growth sites. The prickly fruits are spread by animals (long-distance transportation) as burrs, for example, whereas thornless fruits serve short and middle-distance transportation routes, eg when being washed away by the rain.

Calendula officinalis is a relatively undemanding plant that grows in loose soil that heats up easily – precisely the soil we find in the Rhine Valley – and so is easy to cultivate. It grows particularly well if it is left until the days grow longer and is harvested during the solstice. Hence, we sow the seeds around the beginning of April so as to harvest the fresh, blossoming plants that grow above ground as of the middle of June. They can be sown later, though the risk of mildew is then greater.