Marigolds: The Value of Precious Petals

One common flower enjoys an uncommonly storied history. Ancient Romans celebrated its vitality, calling it calendula in honor of its monthly blooms. Buddhists consider it sacred to Maha-devi, her devotees weaving garlands of it as a show of reverence. The Germans call it gelt (or gold-flower), believing it to resemble the coin of the realm. Mexicans call it the flower of death, claiming it to have sprung from soil wet with the blood of natives shed by cupiditous conquistadores. The French call it souci, which derives from the Latin Solsequium and denotes its tendency to expand its bloom to follow the sun’s eastward course, and add it to salad and broths to give them a splash of color. Anglophones dubbed it “marigold,” a corruption of “Mary’s gold,” to reflect the frequency with which it was to be found growing in cottagers’ gardens.

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