Calendula is a genus of around 20 species of annual and perennial plants and are often colloquially termed marigolds. They are found natively in southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean.
(Photo credit: gardeningknowhow.com)
Traditionally, this plant has been used in the culinary world, as a medicinal herb and in ceremonies. In cooking, the yellow flower can be placed in salads or dried and used as a natural coloring for cheese by extracting its yellow color into a dye. Ancient Romans and Greeks often wore crowns and garlands made from these flowers and it has even garnered the nickname ‘Mary’s Gold’ due to its use in early Catholic events in some countries.
Medicinally, calendula oil is used as an anti-inflammatory and a home remedy for wounds. It is also sometimes used to treat acne, reduce inflammation, and to control bleeding. Though the evidence is scarce, some pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have antiviral and antigenotoxic properties in vitro. Another unique quality and benefit of the calendula flower is that it has been suggested as a sunscreen alternative as when in the form of a cream, it may have SPF properties. However, as of now, make sure to stick to sunscreen if you don’t want a nasty burn until calendula cream is featured in more scientific inquiries.