You will often hear the term marigold oil used in aromatherapy practice. However, marigold may refer to different types of oils – and sometimes the name is used incorrectly to refer to a particular oil. Marigold oil may refer to tagetes essential oil, calendula infused (carrier) oil, or marigold/calendula essential oil. Here’s more information.
Botanical Similarities Between Tagetes and Calendula
Although these two plants belong to the same plant family, Asteraceae, tagetes (Tagetes minuta) is a different genus and species to that of calendula (Calendula officinalis). They share many of the Asteraceae plant family characteristics, including the easy-to-recognize daisy-like flowers. Both plants are also herbs and have similar golden-colored (yellow-orange) flowers. Calendula, however, tends to grow slightly taller than tagetes.
Tagetes is also referred to by the synonyms marigold, Mexican marigold, tagette, taget, and calendula oil (although this last synonym is incorrect); calendula (oil) is referred to as calendula (infused) oil, calendula essential oil, marigold oil (another incorrect synonym), and marigold essential oil. The plant calendula is commonly known as pot marigold.
Tagetes Essential Oil
Tagetes essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh flowers of the plant; an absolute and concrete are also obtained by solvent extraction. However, it is the former oil that is used in therapeutic aromatherapy practice; the latter may be used in perfumery. Tagetes essential oil has a warm, green, herb-like aroma. Traditionally, it was used for colds, colic, whooping cough, and mumps. Today, tagetes essential oil is commonly used for skin care problems.
Calendula Infused Carrier Oil
Calendula oil is obtained by infusion or maceration. The flowers are soaked in a vegetable oil and left to infuse or macerate. The resulting calendula oil is used as a carrier oil in massage and aromatherapy practice. It is used for skin problems such as eczema, cracked skin, bruises, varicose veins, and cuts.
Calendula (Marigold) Essential Oil
Calendula essential oil is extracted by CO2 extraction of the fresh flowers of calendula. CO2 extraction is becoming more popular among the options offered by essential oil suppliers, although it is good to remember that CO2 extraction produces a slightly different essential oil to those traditionally steam distilled. However, some plants are now becoming available as a CO2 essential oil, whereas previously they were not available as a steam distilled essential oil.
The therapeutic properties of such essential oils have not been as well used, and “time-tested,” as more traditional oils and methods but they are usually similar.
Learn More About Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie
Sedona Aromatherapie offers a variety of different home study courses for further study into specific plants, in addition to full certification in aromatherapy. To learn more, visit the courses home page.
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, UK: Riverhead
Ananda Apothecary website, Calendula Essential Oil, accessed February 2, 2015
Author is a certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, accredited provider for aromatherapy courses, aromatherapy business owner.