Both the leaves and flowers are valued for their medicinal purposes and are believed to help the body’s immune system so that it can defend itself against illness. Externally, they are used to help reduce inflammation and acts as an anti-fungal. Its juice is said to have blood purification properties.
In Indian ceremonies (such as weddings and funerals), the yellow or gold marigold is used as decoration and can usually be seen strung around statues and other pieces of religious art as an offering. They are also used to decorate temples or sacred places during religious festivals.
The marigold also held a more practical place in the daily life of the Indian sub-continent. Once the flower is boiled and left to steep overnight, it produces a bright water that was used to dye cloth or dried to decorate homes.
The marigold is also the fodder of Indian folklore. It is said that the god Gondmuli was decapitated by another god who insisted Gondmuli stole his wife. Being dragged back by her husband, the wife’s hairpin dropped as she wept for the slain god. A marigold sprouted where the hairpin landed.
Today, gardeners appreciate this easy-to-grow annual for its bright orange, yellow, cream, white or mahogany flowers that shaped as a carnation or mum. Marigolds vary from 10 to 90 centimetres, are prolific and produce many flowers. A favourite annual, the hardy marigold will flower monthly until the first frost.