Tag Archives: Calendula officinalis

365 Frankendael day 194


Today a photo of a pretty herb meadow, deliberately grown in the grassland beside Hugo de Vreislaan. As you can see, many of the plants are still in flower and many have gone to seed. At the front of the photo is Calendula in flower and seed, beside Shepherds purse in seed. Such useful and easily grown herbs.

Calendula is particularly useful as an edible plant which makes an interesting bitter addition to casseroles and salads. It’s very easy to make an infused oil from the flowers and they can also be dried or preserved for later use.


365 Frankendael 158

Just a quickie today;


Calendula seed heads ripening on treepit plants. These plants will go on flowering into the winter. They grow very easily from seed so why not collect some and spread them around? The flowers and leaves taste aromatic and better, they have a multitude of uses in food and peoples medicine.


Here’s Yarrow, a scarlet flowering variety but just as useful as the white native variety. This evergreen herb is still flowering in town and still surviving the strimmers! One of it’s country names is nose bleed, it has many uses including regulating blood flow.

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm, NL:Citroenmelisse)

I love the uplifting citrus scent of fresh Lemon Balm (Melissa). In the spring and summer it smells and tastes magical; I eat leaves straight from the plant whilst gardening on the roof, add them to salads and ice cubes and frequently drink it as a tea. Lemon balm tastes great alone or in combination with other herbs, particularly mints. In the autumn and winter I use it dried, it smells good but quite different and has several really useful applications. I made a lip balm containing Melissa this weekend, to help fight off cold sores. I find it works a treat and thought it was time to share a few of this herb’s properties and uses.

The Latin name Melissa means honeybee and this herb is very attractive to bees. It has been planted near beehives since the time of ancient Greece as it encourages bees to return home.  The herb is a member of the mint family and has long been associated with love, friendship, health, healing, success and good cheer. It was the main ingredient in Carmelite water and has a reputation for relieving symptoms of mild depression.

Lemon Balm grows very well in almost any soil, does well in pots and can be divided to make extra plants throughout spring, summer and early autumn.  It is a hardy herbaceous perennial, a pretty variagated variety is available and it makes a great urban herb.

Melissa can be used to:

  • Cool. It can induce a mild perspiration so is sometimes useful taken as a tea when feverish with colds or flu.  In hot weather its cooling properties are also welcomed.
  • Scent. The fresh lemon odour makes Melissa valuable dried in potpourri, as a breath freshener and when the leaves are bruised it can really lift spirits.
  • Flavour. The lemony fresh leaves can be chopped into salads, ice cubes, mayonnaise, white sauces, sauerkraut, custards, jellies, fruit drinks and wine cups.
    Lemon balm can also be used to create wonderfully aromatic vinegars, alone or in combination with herbs such as Tarragon.  They can be used in delicious salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
  • Relieve cold sores.  Some commercial cold sore preparations contain lemon balm but it is easy and cheap to make your own balm.  Recent scientific research has also found that preparations containing Melissa can reduce recurrence of cold sores and can shorten the duration of attacks.
  • Calm and soothe. Lemon balm may be helpful to those suffering from grief, mild depression, anxiety, tension and sleeplessness. It can help digestive problems caused by these issues and many find it works as a relaxing tonic.  Recent scientific research has also found it to be useful in managing agitation in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Relieve headaches. A tasty remedy for simple tension headaches it to soak a handful of freshly picked leaves in a glass of wine for an hour, or drink a tea made from the dried leaves.
  • Relieve chronic bronchial catarrh. Lemon balm tea can help to ease symptoms.

How to make Cold Sore fighting lip balm

  • Follow my instructions about How To Make Salves, Ointments and Lip Balms using a 50:50 mix of Calendula and Melissa heat infused oils.
  • Warm very gently as you dissolve the grated beeswax, I stir with a clean finger to check that the temperature remains really low.
  • Ensure you test the consistency and adjust it accordingly, with more wax or more oil, before pouring into small pots.  Lip balm for cold sores shouldn’t be too firm as application may be painful.
  • When I use a pot of balm to treat a cold sore, I tend to throw away any remainder when the sore is healed. This reduces the risk of using contaminated balm once the skin is healed.

How to Make Heat Infused Herb Oils

Dried or fresh herbs are used to make heat infused oils.  Depending upon the herb, they may be used in remedies such as ointments, or as culinary oils.  Any plant parts can be used but this method is particularly useful for extracting oil-soluble ingredients from dried roots.  The method is far quicker than that for cold infusion as the herbs are simmered in the base oil and there is less likelihood of microbes entering the oil during fabrication. Jars and bottles do need to be carefully sterilised however.  As with the method for fresh herbs, there is no need to measure accurately or produce vast quantities of infusion but it is wise to record how much herb and oil you use, for future reference. Heat infused oils should last for about a year but they are best used within 6 months.

The photos show dried wild crafted Calendula being infused.
I used 50g Calendula with about 600ml olive oil for this infusion.
It yeilded about 560ml of infused oil.  That’s enough to make a about 8 – 10 salves.  With denser herb material far less oil would be required.

Heatproof glass bowl and saucepan, set up as a Bain Marie (or use a double boiler)
Dried herb – chopped
Vegetable oil (olive oil is my preference but you may like to try coconut oil, almond oil, peach kernel oil)
Wooden spoon or chopsticks
Jelly bag, muslin or tea towel.
Sterile storage bottles and lids or corks


  1. Place the chopped herbs into the glass bowl.
  2. Cover them with oil; enough to form a 2cm clear layer above heavy herb material such as chopped roots, or enough to allow the herb material to move around in the oil, if using light material such as petals.
  3. Heat the bain marie until the water is boiling and then simmer gently, with a lid over the glass bowl, for about 2 hours.  Stir the oil-herb mixture from time to time and check that the pan does not boil dry.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow the oil-herb mixture to cool enough to handle comfortably.
  5. Pour through the  jelly bag or cloth, into a clean dry jug.
  6. Squeeze, wring and press out as much oil as possible, through the jelly bag.  It helps to wear rubber gloves for this stage.*
  7. Pour into sterile dry storage bottles or jars (preferably dark glass).
  8. Seal with screw caps or tightly fitting corks.
  9. Label and store in a cool place.
  10. *After making infused oils, I sometimes hang the jelly bag under the bath tap and fill the bath through the “used” herbs. Of course this is only suitable for some of the herbs, Chamomile and Calendula are particularly suitable.

Leek, Potato and Calendula soup

I often use fresh  petals to garnish soup; they are almost always available on my balcony, they look so pretty and their intense orange colour encourages appetite.  After writing about uses for Calendula, I thought I should make more of an effort to use the dried flowers in my food.   Adding dried Calendula flowers to soups, or broths, was seen as essential to Old English cooks.  They apparently felt that a broth without pot marigold was not a real broth, so that’s where I decided to start!

My Leek, Potato and Calendula soup requires about 5 dried Calendula organic flower heads.  If you have dried petals, rather than flower heads, then those will also work well.  Calendula flowers can taste quite bitter if infused for too long, so I added them to the soup just 5 minutes before the end of cooking and ensured that the leeks were thoroughly cooked at the start, to add a little sweetness.  Calendula flowers are most likely to work their magic if some of their astringency is allowed to shine through, so don’t try to mask their taste completely, enjoy it.

(Serves two)
2 long, thin leeks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped.
5 Dried Calendula officinalis flower heads (or 3 heaped tsp dried petals)
Vegetable stock (optional)
Olive oil for sweating leeks

  1. Clean and trim the leeks.
  2. Slice the leeks and add to a pan with well fitting lid.
  3. Add a little olive oil and allow them to sweat gently over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. When the leeks are very soft add the chopped potatoes and enough water to amply cover the vegetables.
  5. Add a vegetable stock cube or 2 tsp bouillon powder if desired.
  6. Bring the vegetables and water to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked.
  7. Add the Calendula flowers or petals and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Remove any hard flower parts (the stalks and flower centres) before liquidising the soup.
  10. Serve warm.

43 Uses for Calendula (NL:Goudsbloem)

Calming, cooling, cleansing. Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold, NL: Goudsbloem) is one of the easiest herbs to grow and perhaps one of the most useful to Urban Herbologists. It is a hardy annual which does very well in containers, can flower throughout the year and self seeds readily. It is beautiful, tastes good and has gentle astringent, anti-inflammatory, cooling, detoxifying and antiseptic actions. If you only have space to grow one herb, this has to be one to consider. Many of the remedies mentioned here are very easy to make, if you prefer to buy them from a reliable source, I recommend Weleda products (some links are included in the list). N.B. Calendula is not to be confused with French marigold (Tagetes patula). Calendula is very gentle but when trying a new herb it is always wise to use very small quantities at first or to do a skin patch test.

43 uses for Calendula

Medicinal uses
1. Sprains
– make a compress from infused flowers.
2. Gum infections –
Mouthwash from tea or a few drops of tincture in water.
3. Sore throat pastilles – Powdered dried flowers, blended with honey.
4. Mastitis & sore nipples – Calendula Cream can help strengthen nipples and prevent mastitis in nursing mothers.
5. Cold sores – Calendula salve is helpful to many cold sore sufferers.
6. Acne – Lotion made from Calendula tea can help speed healing and reduce scarring.
7. Nappy rash – Infused oil, lotion or Calendula Cream can prevent and speed healing.
8. Athletes foot – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
9. Ring worm – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
10. Period pain – Many women find regular use of Calendula tea helpful as a menstrual regulator.
11. Digestive inflammation – Calendula tea can often gently reduce inflammation.
12. Scar reduction – Often Calendula Oil, cream or salve can help to reduce existing scars and prevent scars.
13. Lowering mild fever – Drinking Calendula tea at first signs may help.
14. Skin softening – Massage using Calendula infused oil.
15. Eczema – Calendula infused oil or cream often calms red, hot eczema conditions.
16. Dry chapped skin – Calendula salve or infused oil.
17. Varicose veins – Calendula salve or cream.
18. Chillblains – Calendula salve or cream.
19. Post operative recovery – Calendula tea. Gentle, cooling, nourishing, speeds healing, reduction of scarring.

Culinary uses
20. Herbal ice cubes/wands – Freeze petals in ice cubes for summer drinks.
21. Salad flowers – Pretty and tasty, sprinkle on top.
22. Soups Add dried or fresh flowers or petals to soups. An ancient broth without Calendula was incomplete, hence the name Pot Marigold.
23. Saffron colour substitute – The taste is different but the colour is very similar.
24. Risotto – Adding whole petals livens up the appearance of risotto.
25. Soft cheese –
Blend in whole or chopped fresh petals. Previously used to colour cheese yellow.
26. Yoghurt –
Mix in fresh petals or spinkle on top.
27. Butter –
Mix in finely chopped fresh petals. Can be frozen.
28. Omelettes –
Add fresh petals for colour and taste.
29. Cakes –
Use calendula butter or add fresh petals to cake mix.
30. Milk dishes –
Add to rice pudding, custards and similar dishes.
31. Sweet breads –
A little like saffron.
32. Vegetable bouillon – Add to mixes of dried herbs and vegetables.
33. Source of Vitamin A

Other uses
34. Fabric/Wool dye –
Boil flowers, yellow dye. Suitable mordant is alum.
35. Pot pourri – Whole dried flowers retain colour and mild scent.
36. Alter decorations – Used since ancient times to adorn spiritually significant objects and buildings.
37. Skin toner – Cooled tea.
38. Eye make-up remover – Infused oil.
39. Face cleanser – Infused oil or cream.
40. Lip balm – Soothing and calming, beeswax and infused oil.
41. Hair rinse – Tea, to brighten blond hair.
42. Companion planting – Useful for deterring pests in organic gardens.
43. Year round colour – The Romans noted this plant tends to be in bloom on first day of each month (calends), hence the latin name.