The oil is costly and almost never available commercially, so we plant the colorful flowers in our gardens and infuse them into an herbal oil to use as a base for essential oils. Since two different flowers are called marigold, calendula is often confused with Tagetes (see Associated Oils, below), the oil of which is more common and also more toxic. Essential oil from both plants is often sold as “calendula.”
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Extraction: Absolute or CO2 extraction from flowers. It has a pungent, fragrant odor.
Medicinal Action: Calendula relieves lymphatic congestion, inflammation and hemorrhoids, and is antiseptic.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Calendula heals skin wounds, rashes, inflammation and bites. Use it on oily complexions.
Marigold (Tagetes minuta and T. patuh) –This marigold is sometimes used on calluses, but the tagetone it contains makes the oil toxic and irritating, and the oil is phototoxic. Use calendula instead. Tagetes is high in beta-carotene (the precurser to vitamin A), is deep orange and sometimes sold as “carrot oil.” It has recently become popular as an ingredient in perfumes. Use with caution.