What is Tagetes?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Tall annual herbs with golden flowers, tagetes are an herbal remedy. Sweetly scented with a slightly fruity, floral aroma, tagetes are used both as an oil, as well as a plant form to treat many different physical ailments. Cultivated to rid crops of insects, the herb is also used as a flavoring for foods and tobacco products.

Bunions might be treated with tagetes.
Bunions might be treated with tagetes.

Scientifically named tagetes minuta, the genus includes 52 different species of herbs. They are native to Mexico, North America, and South America, though some species are also known to grow in Australia and Africa. In North America, they are also known as marigolds. The ornamental flowers feature round, floral heads of various hues, including gold, white, red, yellow, and orange. Members of the daisy family, they also have multi-divided green leaves.

Tagetes may be used to flavor tobacco.
Tagetes may be used to flavor tobacco.

For physical ailments, tagetes may be used for treating corns, callouses, bunions, and warts. Skin infections and hemorrhoids can be healed through use of the herb. Marigolds are known to cure stomach problems such as gastritis and indigestion. They are also effective in ridding the body of intestinal parasites. Sedation can also be acquired through the use of tagetes.

Some tagetes varieties are resistant to deer.
Some tagetes varieties are resistant to deer.

The golden flowers are also known to possess diuretic, digestive, antispasmodic, antimicrobial, and purgative properties. In aromatherapy, the flowers' essential oil is used for emotional and spiritual focus. Fungal infections like athlet's foot can also be treated with the oil. The respiratory system can get a boost from using the oil, which has a dilating effect on the bronchi and can help foster decongestion.

When used in aromatherapy, the oil of tagetes is said to help with spiritual and emotional focus.
When used in aromatherapy, the oil of tagetes is said to help with spiritual and emotional focus.

The herbs' strong insecticide properties make it a popular home remedy. They are often dried and scattered or hung throughout homes or added to bedding to help keep pests away. Slugs, eel worms, bedbugs, and other bugs are repelled by tagetes. The presence of the herb within the garden can also help curb weed growth, especially with planted with vegetables such as tomato and eggplant. Some insects, such as the dot moth, do use them as a food source.

Extracts of the flower are used as a food coloring. Highly-scented varieties are used as perfumes and essential oils. In South Africa, tagetes are used as a food and tobacco flavoring. In the same region, the flower is often used for cultivating disturbed land. This is largely due to the resistance some species of the flower have to insects as well as wildlife, such as rabbits, deer, and rodents.

If heavily used, tagetes can be toxic. The remedy should be used in moderation. Phototoxic, it can cause intense sensitivity during exposure to light. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid using the flower and its essential oil for medical or other purposes.

Marigolds are known to cure stomach problems such as gastritis and indigestion.
Marigolds are known to cure stomach problems such as gastritis and indigestion.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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