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By Jane Seeley, contributing writer

Common name: Calendula
Scientific name: Calendula officinalis
Family: Compositae

It was over twenty years ago when I first heard about the herb calendula. A friend of mine was making and selling salves and creams from olive oil infused with healing flowers and herbs and I acquainted myself with the flowers that she used.

I found out that this herb is excellent for many skin conditions including rashes, bee stings, sunburn and cold sores; I also learned that all calendula flowers are not equal in their healing power so I found a packet of high resin content seeds and planted them in my garden.

Higher resin seeds contain the most medicinal benefit.

You can find high resin calendula seeds on Amazon with free shipping via Prime. These are non-GMO and can be ready to harvest in 60 days.

A.K.A. Pot Marigold

This beautiful orange and yellow flower, Calendula officinalis, is also known as “pot marigold” because of its use in the Middle Ages as a common addition to soups and stews. Calendula has a historical reputation that dates back to Roman times and early herbalists such as Nicholas Culpeper in the 17th century included calendula in his Complete Herbal. Also used to color butter and cheese, calendula flowers can be found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, and the petals can be added to salads 1)http://www.jurlique.com.au/blog/2015/06/01/calendula-flower-salad and other dishes. 2)http://www.jurlique.com.au/blog/2015/06/01/calendula-flower-salad

Here’s a great vegetable broth recipe we’re saving to try on the next cool night.
Source: MotherEarthNews.com 3)http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/vegetable-broth-calendula-recipe

Self seeding, this plant has spread throughout my garden and I am often challenged to keep it contained. Gloriously spreading its yellow and/or orange flowers, it adds beauty and color to the summer landscape of my vegetable garden.

dried calendula flowers
Calendula is an easy to grow perennial for zones 3-9. Image by writer, Jane Seeley.

I treat calendula as a crop, grown not just for its beauty but also for its usefulness in skin care. Living at 3,450 feet at the foot of a volcano, my skin becomes quickly dry in the heat of summertime.

Lake Siskyou, mt shasta
Lake Siskyou, Mount Shasta, California. Image by writer, Jane Seeley

In June of this year I noticed that my skin was getting flakey and needed rehydrating. I reached into my refrigerator and pulled out a jar of calendula oil that I had made last fall and began a daily routine of covering my skin with this rejuvenating oil, known for its anti-inflammatory as well as anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Calendula oil is quite easy to make.

The simplest way to make calendula oil is to put the flowers in a jar, cover them with oil and let them sit in the sun for two to four weeks. However, there’s a bit more to it than that. When the calendula begins to bloom, I pick the flowers mid-morning every two to three days, place them in the shade in an open box or drying rack and let them dry for a few days.

Dried calendula flowers are good for making calendula cream and oil.
Dried calendula flowers. Image by Jane Seeley

Minimally, dry them for at least twelve hours and many herbalist recommend drying for two to three days before putting them in oil, the goal being to remove water that might later make its way into the oil and turn the product rancid. I prefer a few days and then store the dried flowers in a bag or jar in a cool dark place until I have collected enough flowers for my project.

Calendula oil to moisten and rejuvenate the skin.

Olive Calendula Oil

  • Dried calendula flowers, coarsely chopped
  • Fill a mason jar with flowers
  • Fill the jar adding enough oil to cover the flowers, (organic olive oil works well)
  • Place the jar into a sunny window for two to four weeks

 

The infused oil will become a beautiful yellow shade and ready to be decanted, which can be accomplished by using a cheese cloth lined funnel and a clean jar. Pour the infused oil into the funnel and allow the oil to drain, pressing and squeezing the flowers to release the oil.

Be sure to strain out all sediment.

The strained oil can now be stored or used in other preparations such as salves and cremes. Sediment may accumulate in the bottom of your pre-strained oil, so be careful to keep any settled sediment out of your finished oil as it can lead to rancidity in your final products. Store the oil for up to a year in a cool dark place; I prefer the refrigerator.

Calendula oil
Calendula soaking in coconut oil. Image by Jane Seeley

Calendula and Coconut Calendula Oil

As a twist on this formula, calendula infused directly in coconut oil is my favorite option. Since coconut oil solidifies at temperatures above 76℉/24℃, coconut calendula oil is best made in summer. However, you can then store the infused oil for use any time of year after straining and also use as is, it is softer than a salve with beeswax and very pleasant to apply to the skin. As with the olive oil recipe.

Olive Oil Calendula

  • Fill mason jar with dried blossoms, roughly chopped
  • Add coconut oil to cover the calendula
  • Cover and sit in a sunny window for a couple weeks

Coconut oil may harden on cool nights in summer, but should melt during the day as temperatures warm up. Soaking in the warm sun will help extract the flavonoids from the flowers and infuse this into the oil.

Decant and strain this concoction while the oil is still hot and liquid.  I put this oil directly into small sterile jars or containers store in the refrigerator. I just take out a jar at a time, as needed and it stays pretty much solid and ready for use, like salve, if stored in a cool place. if you live in a really hot area, just keep it in the refrigerator and pull it out to use when you need it.

Homemade coconut oil calendula cream – image by Jane Seeley

Picking the flowers makes more flowers!

In the garden it is important to keep the flowers picked. Like many plants calendula has one goal in its life process: to produce seed. So to keep the plant blooming all summer and into the fall all you need to do is keep picking the flowers and remove any dead heads that are going to seed.

In warmer climates, calendula will bloom year round, and the genus name ‘calendula’ is a derivative of the Latin word calendae meaning “little calendar”, the word Romans used to indicate that it bloomed continuously through the year.

Calendula is an Anti-inflammatory Flower

Enjoy this beautiful flower and keep your skin healthy! This anti-inflammatory flower may protect cells from free radical damage via its powerful flavonoids which may help in UV filtration. One friend found my salve to be very helpful with his son’s eczema and it is useful in treating other skin conditions, thus its use in so many skin products.

For more on the healing benefits of calendula and other herbs, you may enjoy this article.

Happy planting and growing, take good care of yourself!

Jane Seeley, gardener, photographer, writer

With the creative flare of an artist and the eye of a photographer, Jane Seeley is a master at creating lovely gardenscapes reminiscent of a painting.

“Growing up in North Carolina, my first gardening friend was an elderly neighbor who grew a huge garden and engaged the neighborhood in evening bean shelling and corn shucking.

Transplanted to Mt. Shasta California in the mid 90’s, I learned how to garden organically at 3,500 feet at the base of a volcano where summers are short and winters long and cold. Each year I learn how little I know as each season brings its challenges and rewards. Now I’m breaking new ground as a garden writer, sharing from my lifetime of experience and love of gardening.”

Jane Seeley, writer, gardener, photographer, creating beauty wherever she goes.


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References   [ + ]

1, 2. http://www.jurlique.com.au/blog/2015/06/01/calendula-flower-salad
3. http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/vegetable-broth-calendula-recipe