Calendula or Calendula officinalis, is a hardy annual, and member of the Asteraceae or Compositae family, which share a central disc surrounded by spoon-shaped petals.
Notable species include daisy, arnica, Artemisia, chamomile, chrysanthemum, dandelion and Echinacea. Often mistaken for the more familiar French and African pom-pom flowers known as marigolds (Tagetes) that come in a six-pack at the garden center six-pack, both produce bright yellow and orange blossoms that add a sunny personality to the flower, herb or vegetable garden.
Calendula blossoms form a neat ray of petals that gently unfold from a tight bud, opening up to radiate from the center as the sun hits them in the morning, and closing up when the sun sets. The name calendula means the first day of the month, presumably because this pot marigold blooms reliably at the start each day. It is easy to grow from seed and quickly grows from seed to maturity in 6-8 weeks.
Also known as Pot Marigold, English Marigold, Poet’s Marigold, or Summer’s bride, the original species were contained to yellow and orange, yet many new hybrids have been bred to develop a range of differing shades of apricot, orange and yellow, with doubles and single blossoms, as well as plants of shorter stature for bedders, and longer stems for the cutting garden.
All About Calendula: Origins and Uses
Originating in Europe, Calendula has been written about since the fourteenth century, cultivated for healing properties, and to highlight blonde hair. Golden orange flowers are a favorite among herbalist, and one early herbalist recommended simply looking at the plant will improve eyesight.