Marigolds are one of the most common flowers found in South Africa. They thrive in direct sunlight and can typically tolerate very hot summers. But these brightly coloured flowers have more uses than just looking pretty. According to experts, they can be used as companion plants, and they also have medicinal value.
African and signet marigolds are resistant to drought, while French marigolds are more resistant to wet circumstances. Marigolds are susceptible to powdery mildew and will not bloom if planted in shady, chilly, wet environments.
In most cases, the petals are what are harvested for medicinal purposes. The flowers, whether fresh or dried, are used to make infusions and in the production of various topical remedies such as ointments, lotions, gels, liniments, and eye drops.
Marigold cultivation in Mzansi
Marigolds are members of the marijuana plant family, says Rob Small, co-founder of Abalimi Bezekhaya, and adds that they are hardy and can grow practically anywhere, given compost, water, and sunlight.
It takes around two months for marigolds to start blossoming from seed, and they come in a variety of colours, including yellow, gold, red, and orange, explains Small.
Moreover, he says, they release a chemical into the soil that is toxic to nematodes, which are microscopic worms that feed on plant roots.
Small says the nicest aspect of marigolds is that they bloom year-round and self-sow in regions where they are permitted to flourish.
Notably, marigolds are susceptible to frost damage. Its sole major drawback is that it may become messy towards the end of its life cycle.
According to Small, it is simple to harvest marigolds. He recommends cultivating short-stemmed flowers with a focus on quality rather than quantity for use in more compact arrangements.
Nutritional and medicinal
Marigolds are mostly used to treat various skin disorders, such as varicose veins, contusions, and bruises. Minor skin injuries and inflammation can also be treated, while marigold ointment assists in the healing of sunburns and eczema wounds.
According to Dr Qinisani Qwabe, a lecturer in the department of sustainable food systems and development at the University of the Free State and an advocate for indigenous agricultural knowledge systems (IAKS), marigolds are rich in carotenoids, one of the most advantageous antioxidants that aid in boosting one’s immune system and protecting against diseases. Just like your carrots, kale, and yams. They are also acknowledged to possess vital anti-inflammatory effects.
Qwabe adds by saying marigolds are also known to be highly essential in the reduction of stomach and menstrual cramps. Some groups of people across the world use these for skin treatment.
Use with caution
“The petals of these plants play the most significant part, merely need to be properly plucked from the stem before combining with water,” says Qwabe.
“That is if they are used for making tea which is one of their most common uses.”
He tells Health for Mzansi that he has seen them being used in topping up cakes and brightening up dishes in some instances.
“My first-hand experience with them was in Germany where I had a Thai soup (which I would never dare attempt to take again). That is to say, yes, they can be consumed and added to dishes.”
As with all plants and herbs that people use for ailments, you should speak to your doctor before you consume them. It might be harmful to people with certain conditions.
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