Calendula: Not Just A Pretty Flower!
Many Australian summer gardens boast the bright orange to yellow flowers of calendulas. This delightfully colourful plant is much more than just pleasing to the eye. Calendulas (Calendula officinails) is a member of the Asteraceae Family and has a wide variety of benefits and uses.
Calendula can be harvested and used as a medicinal herb, their presence in the garden may help repel insect pests, and the roots benefit the soil by forming active relationships with soil fungi.
Medicinal Uses for Calendula Flowers
The natural compounds produced by this amazing herb is what give it so many different applications. For the skin, it has been used for centuries as a treatment for dry skin, inflammatory skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis), fungal infections, infected sores, cuts, grazes, nappy rash, burns and chafing.
Research conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Centre in the USA, reports that the abundant antioxidants in calendula petals help heal skin wounds and suppress secondary infections.
Calendula is used as an active ingredient in several nappy creams for babies, and you will often see it in natural hand lotions and first-aid creams.
Calendula A Helping Hand in the Garden
Most insects avoid calendula plants, which is in keeping with one of its old uses as the basis for insect sprays. In Poland, growing calendulas among cabbage resulted in a reduction in problems with aphids, cabbageworms, and diamondback moths.
Calendulas also benefit the garden below ground, where they form partnerships with soil-borne fungi that turn the plants into soil-cleaning machines. In China and the USA, calendula has been found to be useful in the restoration of soil contaminated with high levels of cadmium.
More Quick Calendula Facts
- Contains: saponins, flavonoids, mucilage, resin and steroidal compounds.
- Actions: astringent, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, wound healing (1) plus so much more.
- Colour: The flower is bright yellow to orange due to it’s high carotenoid content.
- Solubility: The carotenoid content is only soluble in oil and this is crucial to calendula’s skin regenerative properties.
- Name: Calendula, is from the Latin kalendae, the word Romans used to indicate that it bloomed throughout the year in their area. The second name officinalis indicates that calendula was included in official lists of medicinal herbs.
- Behaviour: The blossoms open in the morning and then closes at dusk or when rain is imminent.
- Historical References: Macer’s 12th Century Herbal recommends simply looking at the plant to improve eyesight, clear the head and encourage cheerfulness – how lovely!
(1) Bone, K., ‘The real value of herbal preparations in cosmetic products.’ 29th Annual Conference of the A.S.C.C. May 1994