Friday, April 21, 2006
Celebration of Earth Day
This is a Calendula officinalis, Erfurter Orangefarbigen variety. Commonly known as Marigold but I like to refer to it by the latin name, Calendula, so not to be confused with the French Marigold of the Target family. Very different.
This plant is special because it's two years old. In this zone, calendulas are usually considered annuals. They should die each fall and have to be replanted each spring. This guy have managed to live through his second winter. A common plant that's easily grown.
The flowers usually range from pale yellow to brilliant orange. I've also seen varieties with reddish orange as well. This particular variety is usually grown commercially because of it's high medicial value.
The young leaves can be eaten in salads, the petals are plucked and dried and used in all sorts of skin washes. Infused in oil, it will make a great face lotion. Very soothing for chapped skin. Another great reason to keep it in the garden is the flower can be rubbed on bee and wasp stings to relieve the pain and swelling. And lastly, the flowers can be boiled to extract a yellow dye. I haven't tried this yet as it would take too much of my precious flowers that I use for other purposes.
1/4 cup dried calendula petals
~1/4 cup jojoba oil
Place the calendula petals in a clean dry container (I like canning jars) and fill with jojoba oil until the oil covers the petals with just a bit over. Let sit for 1/2 hour and check to see if you need to add more oil. As the petals absorb the oil, the level may go down. Put the lid on tight and let it sit in a sunny window for 2 weeks. Gently swirl the jar twice a day but make sure all the petals are still covered.
After 2 weeks, strain out the petals and save the oil. The oil can be used directly on your skin as a soothing skin oil or used to make a salve or lip balm.