The first time I saw Calendula (Calendula officinalis) growing in person, was some years ago at Springdale Farm. I had heard of it, but didn’t really know why, and often heard it pronounced Cal-en-DOO-la, which is not correct. The farm grows mostly edible flowers and Calendula is certainly edible. The bright yellow or orange petals look great on a plate with other edible flowers and are popular with chefs.
What I didn’t know, was that Calendula is a powerful healing flower. When Paula suggested that we should make a Calendula Salve for Springdale Handmade, I started doing some research on the plant and was absolutely blown away by what I read. This flower, of the marigold variety, packs a powerful punch, and has been used for centuries, both topically and taken internally. Thought to have antihemorrhagic and antiseptic properties, Calendula was used during World War 1 and the Civil War on battlefields for wound dressings to stop bleeding and speed up healing. It is also well documented to have been taken internally, to heal digestive ailments and detoxify the gall bladder and liver. It has been common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, and the petals have been used to add color to butter and cheese. Cool stuff!
I have been gardening for years, growing primarily food, and have been an advocate for “growing your own” for as long, but this revelation that plants could be such powerful medicine had not made it’s way into my radar until a couple years ago. It’s fascinating.
To make our salve, we harvested lots of the flowers and dehydrated them, then decided on a mixture of oils. We infused the oil mixture with the flowers for several months, and always have jars in various states of infusion.
You can steep the petals into a tea for a powerful punch, put them in soups and stews or use them as a beautiful component of any salad. You could keep the infused oil around and apply it directly to scrapes, bug bites, rashes, or most skin situations. It is great in salves, and could be made into a body butter, which we have done as well or a tincture, which we have not tried.
Calendula can tolerate some frost, and can be planted in the Fall in climates that don’t get too cold. (Mine were blooming in December but are covered during this arctic blast.) I’ll be starting some new seeds inside here in a few weeks then will also sow some directly into the soil in the Spring. I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, my very favorite online seed source. Their seasonal seed catalog is absolutely gorgeous.
If you aren’t quite ready to make your own, our version of Calendula Salve is available at the Springdale Farm farmstand, Epicerie, Flourish, Confituras Little Kitchen, Farmhouse Delivery and in our online shop.