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Christine Iverson2 min

The Herbal Apothecary: Calendula

CALENDULA Alternative names: Pot marigold, summer’s bride, Mary gold, holigod, Jack on horseback, measle flower, drunkards HOW TO IDENTIFY: This cheerful daisy-like flower comes in many shades, from pale creamy yellow to deep burnt orange. Calendula blooms from early spring well into autumn, producing many flower heads that can be dried for use in the medicine chest all year round. HISTORY: Calendula was prized by the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians for its wonderful healing properties, as well as its use as a food colouring and to dye cloth.  Gertrude Jekyll, the renowned British horticulturalist, grew an abundance of calendula during the First World War to be sent to field hospitals in France. The cleansing and antiseptic properties of calendula were harnessed to speed up the healing of wounds. Used by country folk to tell the time, calendula blossoms open up at around nine o’clock each morning and close again at three o’clock in the afternoon, signalling the end of the working day. FOLKLORE: Hang a garland of calendula over the entrance of your home to remove all traces of witchcraft and prevent evil from entering your house. Eating calendula petals will allow you to see the faery folk, and if you place them under your pillow, your dreams will surely come true. Scatter calendula petals in your bathwater to give yourself a healthy, sunny glow guaranteed to draw admiring glances. FOLK MEDICINE: A dozen calendula heads steeped in boiling water made a  soothing “measle flower” tea that was traditionally given to children to ease the misery of measles. Add a handful of calendula blossoms to your bath to soothe sunburned skin and ease the itch of insect bites and rashes. OTHER COMMON USES: Calendula petals are edible, with a slightly peppery flavour, and can add a little sunshine to salads and cakes. CALENDULA AND OAT SOOTHING FACE MASK Calendula-infused oil calms, moisturizes, helps to reduce redness and promote skin health. Oats are anti-inflammatory and will gently exfoliate your skin, while honey’s antibacterial properties will soothe acne and leave your skin glowing. This recipe makes enough for one application; however, it’s worth infusing extra calendula oil for other masks and skin care products. INGREDIENTS 1 tbsp organic rolled oats 1 tbsp calendula-infused carrier oil (see page 14) 1 tbsp raw honey Equipment needed Pestle and mortar or rolling pin METHOD Grind the oats a little with a pestle and mortar, or crush with the end of a rolling pin, leaving them just a little rough. Combine the oats, oil and honey together in a small bowl. Apply to the face and neck area; keep away from eyes. Leave on for 15–20 minutes, then gently massage in small circles to exfoliate. Rinse off with tepid water and gently pat dry. Always do a patch test. Not to be used if pregnant, breastfeeding or if allergic to the daisy family.

Christine Iverson

Extracted from The Herbal Apothecary: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals by Christine Iverson, published by Summersdale Publishers, which you can purchase for £14.99 here.