Tagetes erecta

Botanical Name :Tagetes erecta
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tagetes
Species: T. erecta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Name :African marigold, Mexican marigold, also called Aztec marigold

Habitat :Tagetes erecta is  native to the Americas. In Mexico, this plant is found in the wild in the states of San Luis Potosí, Chiapas, State of México, Puebla, Sinaloa, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.It grows in the pine-oak forest zone. A garden escape in the USA where it grows along the sides of roads.

Description:
Tagetes erecta is an annual flowering plant and it grows  to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil

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The Aztecs gathered the wild plant as well as cultivating it for medicinal, ceremonial and decorative purposes. It is widely cultivated commercially with many cultivars in use as ornamental plants

Cultivation:     
Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils. Although not very frost resistant, it can be grown as a tender annual in Britain, sowing the seed in a greenhouse in the spring and planting out after the last expected frosts. The flowers are often sold in local markets in Nepal and used as an offering to the Gods. A number of named forms have been developed for their ornamental value. The cultivar ‘Yellow Climax’ has mild flavoured edible flowers that can be used as colourful garnishes. All parts of the plant emit an unpleasant smell similar to that of stale urine when they are bruised[245]. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season. Plants are prone to attacks by slugs, snails and botrytis[188].

Propagation:          
Seed – sow March in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:   
The petals of the flowers of some varieties can be eaten. The fresh receptacle is eaten by children. A yellow dye obtained from the flowers can be used as a saffron substitute for colouring and flavouring foods. The plant is used as a condiment. (This probably refers to the use of the flowers as an edible dye)

Medicinal Uses:  
Anthelmintic;  Aromatic;  Carminative;  Digestive;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Laxative;  Ophthalmic;  Sedative;  Skin;  Stomachic.

The whole herb is anthelmintic, aromatic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, sedative and stomachic. It is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, colic, severe constipation, coughs and dysentery. Externally, it is used to treat sores, ulcers, eczema. sore eyes and rheumatism. The leaves are harvested as required for immediate use during the growing season, whilst the flowering plant can be dried and stored for later use. A paste of the leavs is applied externally to treat boils, carbuncles and earaches. The flowers are carminitive, diuretic and vermifuge. A decoction is used to treat colds, and mumps. It is applied externally to trea skin diseases, conjunctivitis and sore eyes. The root is laxative.

Since prehispanic times, this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The Cherokee used it as a skin wash and for yellow dye. Scientific study shows that thiophenes, natural phytochemicals that include sulfur-containing rings, may be the active ingredients. They have been shown to kill gram negative and gram positive bacteria in vitro. This marigold may help protect certain crop plants from nematode pests when planted in fields. It is most effective against the nematode species Pratylenchus penetrans

Other Uses  
Dye;  Insecticide;  Repellent.

Secretions from the roots of growing plants have an insecticidal effect on the soil, effective against nematodes and to some extent against keeled slugs. These secretions are produced about 3 – 4 months after sowing. The flower petals also have nematacidal properties. The growing plant is also said to repel insects and can be grown amongst crops such as potatoes and tomatoes. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers.

Its flower, the cempasúchil is also called the flor de muertos (“flower of the dead”) in Mexico and is used in the Día de los Muertos celebration every 2nd of November. The word cempasúchil (also spelled cempazúchil) comes from the Nahuatl term for the flower zempoalxochitl, literally translated as “twenty flower”. Water infused with the fragrant essential oil of the flower was used to wash corpses in Honduras, and the flower is still commonly planted in cemeteries

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tagetes+erecta

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagetes_erecta

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