(Gardner & McGuffin, 2013)
Parts Used: Flowers in full bloom
Native to Southern Europe/Mediterranean
Annual, vigorously self- seeds
Oblong, alternate leaves
Striated branching stems that are green and succulent
Yellow to orange flowers with resinous quality (ranges with species). Flowers are generally large, terminal, and solitary upon each branching stem.
Characteristic sickle-shaped seed pods that are numerous.
If buying bulk, look for vibrant colored full blossom heads. Do not waste your money on just calendula petals.
Has 1+ year shelf life if dried and stored out of direct sunlight.
Often seen in commercial skin products and tinctures
Cultivation + Harvesting:
(Carpenter & Carpenter, 2015)
Easily started from seed. Sow directly in garden soils a few weeks before the last frost. May also be in seeded indoors in trays 6-8 weeks before last frost. Harden off transplants well before planting out. Germinates in 7-14 days Note: Very warm soils may slow germination.
If transplanting, plant out in rich soils, spacing starts 6" apart. Prefers full sun.
Begin harvesting as blossoms begin to flower. In the Northeast this is generally early-mid July.
Continually harvest blossoms every 3-4 days to encourage vigorous growth. Plants should continue to bloom into early October or when first hard frost occurs. Yields will decrease towards tail end of growing season.
Dry blossoms face up in dark, well-ventilated space. Drying may take up to a week depending on resin content. Make sure blossoms are well-dried to prevent mold in storage. Take care to not over dry- petals will simply flake away.
Taste + Energetics:
Taste: Mildly bitter
Energy: Neutral→ warm
Actions (*Indicates primary action):
Antiseptic*- bacterial and fungal
Infected and/or inflamed skin/wounds. Can be used externally and internally
Inflamed skin→ burns, sunburns, radiation, eczema, rashes, diaper rash, chronic dermatitis
Skin infections, including skin fungus
Poorly healing wounds/ulcerations/bed sores/gangrene→ whenever poor circulation is a root cause
Boils, pimples, acne
Inflamed mucus membranes, including inflamed tonsils, throat, mouth sores etc.
Gastric ulcers & inflammatory bowel conditions
Infections: local and internal for any skin and mucus membrane infections
Swollen lymph nodes- acute or chronic
Lingering infections in lymph, such as mono and Epstein-Barr
Vaginal infections, especially swollen inguinal (groin) lymph
Triterpenes: Arnidiol (anti-inflammatory); Lupeol (anti-inflammatory); Calendulosides A, B, C, G, H (antiulcerogenic); Oleanolic acid (antibacterial); Taraxasterol (anti-inflammatory)
Carotenoids: Lutein (antioxidant); Lycopene (antioxidant); Flavoxanthin (antioxidant); Aurosanthin (antioxidant)
Flavonoids: Rutin (antioxidant); Narcissin (antioxidant)
(Gardner & McGuffin, 2013)
Safety Class: 1
Interaction Class: A
Avoid in allergies to asteraceae (daisy) family, may cause sensitization or contact dermatitis (recommended to apply a test patch).
Preparations & Dose:
Tea: 3-6 grams per day, add a heaping 1-2 tsp/cup water. Take 3 cups daily for tonic use, or 1 cup every hour for acute situations.
Tincture: 60-70% alcohol (1:2 fresh, 1:5 dried)
Infused oils (see below for recipe)
Topical Applications: Poultice, wash, salve, cream/lotion, baths
Solar Infused Calendula Oil (Hillside Botanicals, 2020):
Ingredients + Tools:
Fresh* or dried calendula blossoms
Oil of choice (Examples: Sunflower, jojoba, hemp seed, olive, apricot kernel, castor etc)
Clean jar with lid
Wax paper or cheesecloth
*Note: If using fresh calendula blossoms, allow them to wilt overnight in a dark room or in a paper bag. This is to reduce the amount of water in your infusion (remember, oil and water don't mix!). You can also let them wilt in a jar with a small amount (0.5-1 oz) of grain alcohol or vodka (80 proof) - this will help start the extraction process of the resinous constituents. Press and strain out excess alcohol before starting oil infusion.
Sort through calendula to ensure there is no excess soil or wayward insects.
Add calendula to jar leaving a couple inches at the top. Note: If you're into exact ratios, generally you can use 1 oz herb to 8-10oz oil. Now, this may work with fresh calendula, however 1 oz of dried calendula takes up a lot more space and you will need to adjust your oil ratio.
Cover calendula with oil(s) of choice. Oil(s) should fully cover plant material (this is to avoid molding).
Cover jar with clean cheesecloth or wax paper and then seal.
Shake jar and place in a warm sunny window. Allow to macerate for 2-4 weeks (or as long as desired)!
After your oil has macerated, strain out plant material.
If you'd like to add natural preservatives to your oil, try adding vitamin E oil (suggested 500IUs per 8 oz oil) or a few drops of Rosemary C02.
To use: apply directly as a wonderful massage or facial oil, or use in your favorite salve or cream recipe.
*Note: The information shared here is meant for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please consult your physician or a trained herbalist before working herbs, especially if you currently take medications. If you would like to share this information in your own publications, please credit our work accordingly.
Bancroft, Betzy. 2018. "Calendula officinalis". Presented at Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. Montpelier, VT.
Carpenter, J. & Carpenter, M. 2015. The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.
Gardner, Z. & McGuffin, M. ed. 2013. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.