|Marigold, Tagetes erecta, Mexican Marigold
This species of Marigold is a native to Mexico and Central America, regarded as flor de muertos (flower of the dead) in pre-hispanic Mexico and still widely used in the Dia de los Muertos celebrated every November 2nd (our All Soul's Day). The Aztecs gathered this wild plant as well as cultivated it for medicinal, ceremonial, and decorative purposes. 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.
Marigold foliage has a musky, pungent scent--it is said to deter common insect pests. It is often planted with tomatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, tobacco and potato.
Since the pre-hispanic times, this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The Cherokee used it as a skin wash and for yellow dye. Due to antibacterial Thiophenes exuded from the roots, Tagetes erecta should not be planted near any legume crop.
Marigold is widely cultivated in Thailand and India to be used as garlands and decoration for weddings, festivals and religions events.
The flower petals have been used in lettuce salads. Today, Tagetes erecta is grown to extract lutein, a common yellow/orange food color added to pasta, vegetable oil, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, baked goods, mustard, and ice cream (in EU countries). The oil of the flower maybe added to perfumes to infuse an apple scent into them. The essential oil contains antioxidants.