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Horticulture

Marigold poor man's saffron

Marigold, calendula officinalis, with its pale-green leaves and golden orange flowers, is a familiar sight in spring in homes and in grandens. It belongs to family compositae. The botanical name comes from the latin clendae, meaning the first day of the month. What is not known, is Its value in cookery and medicine.

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air - Gray

One of the great pleasures of growing flowers in the house and garden is to enliven the environment. The sheer enjoyment as you breathe in their delicious scents lends a unique kind of healing to the body and mind.

The variety of fragrance and the delicacy of the colour or in garden. Those fortunate enough to have a garden can enjoy the sweet fragrance of lavender, lemon balm, loses, etc. Besides, the plant herbs contain essential oils of great medicinal value. They are easy to grow during the year. Some would require sheltering from frost in winter.

Marigold, the 'merrybuds' of Shakespeare
This sunny little flower was first used in Indian and Arabic cultures, before having been discovered by the ancient Greeks. The Egyptian valued it as a rejuvenating
herb and the Greeks garnished and flavoured food with its golden petals. In India, wreaths of marigold were used to crown gods and goddess. In medieval rimes they were considered an emblem of love.
 


To dream of them , was a sign of all good things. In American civil war, marigold leaves were used on the battlefield to treat open wounds.

Cultivation
The marigold is hardy and easy to grow. It is a very tolerant plant, growing in any
soil that is not waterlogged, but prefers directly by sowing seeds in October-November or transplanted to well prepared beds. Thin out plants to a distance of 25 cm apart so that branches may have room to spread.

The pointed-oval leaves, about 12 cm long, are slightly hairy. The flowers, either single or double, are brilliant yellow or bright orange, long flowering season. Encourage continues flowering by dead heading. The plants will multiply from year to year if allowed to seed, which are ripen during March to June and permitted to scattered.

Thus, you get an abundant supply of young plants in the spring. Very late in
the season, the leaves sometimes become covered with a powdery mildew, the
affected leaves should be removed.

Uses in culinary and feed
Flower petals make a very good culinary colour rice. They are also lovely in salads
and omelets and make an interesting cup of tea. The petals with their slight aromatic bitterness are used in fish an meat soups, rice dishes, cakes and salads.Its flowers are also being used in poultry feed of layers to enrich the colour of egg yolk.

Medicinal value
Only the deep orange-flowered variety is of medicinal value. The flowers contain
flavonoids, sterols, bitters, saponins, mucilage, etc. Marigold flowers have antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that prompt healing. It is said marigolds stimulate the immune system and help fight against infections.

Calendula has pride of place as a first for cuts, abrasions, antiseptic healer for
ulcers. The flowers skin lotion to pimples. The plant also has anti-nematodal
properties (perhaps repels nematodes) and because of these properties, it is
include it in a cropping pattern to maintain good soil health.


Mr. Hamid Khurshid is the Principal Scientific Officer (Floriculture), Horticulture Research Institute, National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad

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