Marigolds are flowering plants of the genus Tagetes of the sunflower family Asteraceae.
There are 56 species of marigolds.
Marigolds are native to North and South America, but some species have become naturalized around the world.
Their habitats are shores, ponds, springs, quiet waters in streams, ditches, wetlands, wet meadows, waterside swamps and meadows which are prone to flooding, damp hollows in broad-leaved forests, snow-bed sites, sometimes underwater.
Most marigolds species are annuals, although some species are perennials.
Marigolds species vary in size from 0.1 to 2.2 meters (0.3 to 7.2 feet) tall.
Most species have pinnate green leaves on the stem that usually are finely cut; ; and bracts (leaflike structures) that form a cup-shaped base below each flower head.
Marigolds have attractive golden, orange, yellow, and white flowers, often with maroon highlights; the flowers typically from 4 to 6 centimeters (1.6 to 2.4 inches) in diameter and are solitary or clustered.
Marigolds are one of the most popular and common flowers.
This flower carries meanings like:
• Despair and grief over the loss of love
• The beauty and warmth of the rising sun
• Winning the affections of someone through hard work
• Creativity and the drive to succeed
• Desire for wealth
• Cruelty and coldness due to jealousy
• Sacred offerings to the Gods
• Remembering and celebrating the dead
• Promoting cheer and good relations in a relationship
The name “marigold”, is derived from “Mary’s gold”, a name first applied to a similar plant native to Europe, Calendula officinalis.
The name of the genus Tagetes is from the name of the Etruscan Tages, born from the plowing of the earth. It likely refers to the ease with which plants of this genus come out each year either by the seeds produced in the previous year, or by the stems which regrow from the stump already in place.
The earliest use of marigolds was by the Aztec people who attributed magical, religious and medicinal properties to marigolds. The first recorded use of marigolds is in the De La Crus-Badiano Aztec Herbal of 1552. The Herbal records the use of marigolds for treatment of hiccups, being struck by lightening, or “for one who wishes to cross a river or water safely.” The last use confirms the magical properties ascribed to marigolds.
It is told that in the 1500’s, native marigold seeds were taken from the Aztecs by early Spanish explorers to Spain. The marigolds were cultivated in Spain and grown in monastery gardens. From Spain, marigold seeds were transported to France and northern Africa.
Despite varietal distinctions of African and French marigolds, marigolds were originally cultivated in Mexico more than 2,000 years ago.
The marigold was regarded as the flower of the dead in pre-Hispanic Mexico, parallel to the lily in Europe, and is still widely used in the Day of the Dead celebrations.
The marigold is very significant in Nepalese culture, where marigold garlands are used almost in every household, especially during the Tihar festival. It is always sold in the markets for daily worships and rituals.