Improvement status: Cultivated material
Seeds per packet: ~50
Germination tested 1/2020: 44%
Life cycle: Annual
This calendula comes to us from Joseph Lofthouse, Landrace Seedsman, in high-altitude Paradise, Utah. Joseph claims nothing extraordinary about this calendula, but the fact that he has long grown it in the unpredictable high-desert climate of his home likely makes it at least somewhat extraordinary.
Calendula is an old-school plant experiencing a recent resurgence in popularity. Also known as "pot marigold," it typically has beautiful yellow-orange flowers, though some varieties are pink or red. The leaves are edible (better after boiling), but the petals have long been used as an edible garnish, and natural food dye and subtle flavoring (much like saffron, though with a different flavor). Back in the day, dairy farmers often dyed butter orange with calendula petals to make it look more appetizing. It also seems likely it was playing a preservative role, as the plant is now known to have some anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. It is still widely used a medicinal plant (especially for inflammation and to prevent infections) and in cosmetics (due to the presence of saponins, essential oils, and resins. The plant is very easy to grow in a wide range of conditions. It is typically treated as an annual in North America, but it is actually a short-lived perennial and can persist for many years in warmer climates. It is believed native to southern Europe, but it is possible that it is a completely domesticated species that was developed from wild relatives in cultivation.
We're honored and grateful to be the near-exclusive source of Joseph's amazing seeds — freeing him up to do more farming, plant breeding, pickling, yoga, and loving. We know you will enjoy planting these extraordinary seeds. Thanks Joseph!
GROWING TIPS: Plant in mid-spring. About 3" apart.