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Tagetes erecta - L.

Common Name African Marigold, Aztec marigold, Big Marigold, American Marigold
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 2-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Grows in the pine-oak forest zone[181]. A garden escape in the USA where it grows along the sides of roads[43].
Range Southern N. America - Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Tagetes erecta African Marigold, Aztec marigold, Big Marigold, American Marigold

Tagetes erecta African Marigold, Aztec marigold, Big Marigold, American Marigold


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Bloom Color: Orange, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Tagetes erecta is a ANNUAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is frost tender. It is in flower in July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Tagetes major Gaertn.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers
Edible Uses: Colouring  Condiment

The petals of the flowers of some varieties can be eaten[183]. The fresh receptacle is eaten by children[272]. A yellow dye obtained from the flowers can be used as a saffron substitute for colouring and flavouring foods[183]. The plant is used as a condiment[177]. (This probably refers to the use of the flowers as an edible dye)

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Anthelmintic  Aromatic  Carminative  Digestive  Diuretic  Dysentery  Eczema  Emmenagogue  
Laxative  Ophthalmic  Sedative  Skin  Stomachic

The whole herb is anthelmintic, aromatic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, sedative and stomachic[61, 238]. It is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, colic, severe constipation[238], coughs and dysentery[218]. Externally, it is used to treat sores, ulcers, eczema. sore eyes and rheumatism[218, 238, 257, 272]. 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[238]. A paste of the leavs is applied externally to treat boils, carbuncles and earaches[272]. The flowers are carminitive, diuretic and vermifuge[272]. A decoction is used to treat colds, and mumps[218]. It is applied externally to trea skin diseases, conjunctivitis and sore eyes[218, 272]. The root is laxative[272].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Companion  Dye  Insecticide  Repellent

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Seashore, Specimen. 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[200]. The flower petals also have nematacidal properties[218]. The growing plant is also said to repel insects and can be grown amongst crops such as potatoes and tomatoes. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[169, 257]. Dynamic accumulator.

Special Uses

Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils[188]. Although not very frost resistant, it can be grown as a tender annual in Britain, sowing the seed in a greenhouse in the spring and planting out after the last expected frosts. The flowers are often sold in local markets in Nepal and used as an offering to the Gods[272]. A number of named forms have been developed for their ornamental value[183]. The cultivar 'Yellow Climax' has mild flavoured edible flowers that can be used as colourful garnishes[183]. All parts of the plant emit an unpleasant smell similar to that of stale urine when they are bruised[245]. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season[188]. Plants are prone to attacks by slugs, snails and botrytis[188]. Special Features: North American native, Fragrant foliage, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Tagetes filifoliaIrish LaceAnnual0.4 8-11  LMHNDM102
Tagetes lucidaMexican Tarragon, Sweetscented marigoldPerennial0.8 8-11  LMHNDM433
Tagetes micranthaLicorice marigoldAnnual0.3 7-9  LMHNDM013
Tagetes minutaMuster-John-HenryAnnual1.2 8-11  LMHNDM223
Tagetes patulaFrench Marigold, Dwarf French MarigoldAnnual0.5 2-11 MLMHNDM224
Tagetes tenuifoliaLemon Marigold, Striped Mexican Marigold, Signet MarigoldAnnual0.8 2-11 MLMHNDM203

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

v n rao   Wed Nov 22 2006

thanks for the elobarate information Are there any companies to buy the marigold flowers for extracting pigment for cmmercial use? iam in INDIA .If yes may request for the adresses of such companies. Thanks

mickconnolly   Fri Jun 15 2007

show specimen plant I live in Spain and have a plant /weed which has a most disgusting smell of urine.It is ground hugging prolific and invasive plant which stinks so much that our visitors think we are both incontinent.since we have never allowed this smelly invader to grow more than first sight will allow,we wondered could you give us some idea as to what it is called?

Vital   Mon Oct 26 2009

The above described "ground hugging" plant with "a most disgusting smell of urine" certainly isn't Tagetes erecta. I don't think I can recall to ever have come across such a plant. I'm growing Tagetes erecta (var. Cracker Jack) for the petals, which are used to extract lutein and zeaxanthin (for supplements and nutraceuticals), which reportedly are critical antioxidant carotenoids for the macula of the eyes, and reduce age-related increase in the lens' density. The petals of the variety Cracker Jack are only slightly bitter, and thus OK to be eaten in small amounts on their own, added to a mixed salad, to a smoothie or most other foods.

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