Herb: French Marigold

Latin name: Tagetes patula

Synonyms: Tagetes lunulata

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of French Marigold:

The whole herb is aromatic, digestive, diuretic and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, colic, severe constipation, coughs and dysentery. Externally, it is used to treat 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.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

The pine-oak forest zone. Naturalized in California where it grows on waste ground.

Edible parts of French Marigold:

The flowers are used in refreshing drinks. The leaves are used as a food flavouring. No further details are given. The essential oil is used as a food flavouring, though it is inferior to the oil obtained from T. minuta. The dried flowers are an adulterant of saffron(Crocus sativus), used for colouring foods yellow.

Other uses of the herb:

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 whole plant is harvested when in flower and distilled for its essential oil.The oil is used in perfumery, it is blended with sandalwood oil to produce "attar genda" perfume. About 35 kilos of oil can be extracted from 1 hectare of the plant (yielding 2,500 kilos of flowers and 25,000 kilos of herbage). The whole plant contains substances that are toxic to cockroaches. The growing plant repels whitefly and can be grown near tomatoes to keep that crop free of the insect. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. It is used to colour foods and textiles. The flowers are sometimes used as an adulterant of saffron (obtained from Crocus sativus).

Propagation of French Marigold:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

The pine-oak forest zone. Naturalized in California where it grows on waste ground.

Known hazards of Tagetes patula:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.