In recent years I have been charmed by the benefits of a flower that has a long history. According to the Complete Herbal Book: This sunny little flower—the “merrybuds” of Shakespeare—was first used in Indian and Arabic cultures, before being “discovered” by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.*
The medicinal qualities of calendula are listed: Calendula flowers contain antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties that promote healing.*
This year I bought some heirloom seeds from Select Seeds—Art Shades Calendula and Orange King Calendula. Both are growing in my garden.
Calendula is an edible flower, and the dried the petals of this flower have been called poor man’s saffron. I dry my calendula flowers by placing them on cheesecloth or a paper towel over a drying rack.
It takes approximately 2 weeks for the flowers to dry in room air. Then I place them in an airtight canning jar for use throughout the year.
Calendula flowers make a healthy tea. Tips for a variety of ways to benefit from calendula tea are posted at thenerdyfarmwife.com. Be sure to note the caution mentioned for use during pregnancy. Calendula salve is another way to make use of the flowers. It is fairly easy to make. You can find my process here.
Update: My flowers have continued to bloom well into the fall of 2017. More recipes for this special flower are appearing on-line. Vintage Remedies has a simple recipe for calendula & coconut oil salve.
Every couple days I pick the blossoms, but when I am not fast enough they go to seed. The seeds can be saved for next year’s flowers.
The curved seeds with a bumpy surface are released from the dried flower head. It is possible for the plant to self-seed for the following year, but that hasn’t worked well in my garden. I plant the seeds outside in the early spring.
Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has an article about the benefits of calendula.
Another source for calendula seeds is Pinetree Garden Seeds.
If you don’t have calendula in your garden but would like to add it to your stock of helpful herbs, you can order a package of dried calendula from The Bulk Herb Store.
*McVicar, Jessica, The Complete Herb Book, Kyle Cathie Limited: London, 1994. p. 56-57.