Facts about Mexican Marigold

Introduction

Mexican Marigold has a scientific nomenclature known as Tagetes erecta. Belonging to the sunflower genus it is one of the finest herbaceous plants which are usually found in Central America.  It is ideally used for commercial cultivation. However, in recent times it is widely used as an ornamental and medicinal plant also. This plant is accustomed to warm temperate zones. It is also known by the name of African marigold. This article explains the description, benefits, distribution, and precautions with respect to this plant. 

Plant Description

This plant is usually annual and its length varies from 30-110 cm. The roots of this species are cylindrical and have extended branches. The stem is ideally woody and is flushed with resin. This provides a good aroma to the plant. The leaves follow an alternate pattern of growth. They are usually 7.7 cm in length. Tiny glands are scattered over the leaves. These glands are usually filled with oil. The plant is flowering. Flowers usually appear in groups. Their colors range from red to yellow. The flowers have a small diameter. These flowers are hermaphroditic. This means that they have both male and female reproduction organs. The plant is famous for having a long flowering period. The fruits of Mexican Marigold contain only a single seed. Their ideal length is 1 cm. At the same time, the plant has an efficient reproduction cycle. It uses its seeds as a mode of reproduction. These types of plants grow in fertile soil which is clayey and well-drained. 

Uses and benefits of the Plant

This flower has many usages. They are highly enriched in carotenoids. This makes them useful for manufacturing food pigments. These flowers are usually dried and sometimes ground to extract elements like a marigold meal. They are also used for coloring the poultry feed. The products which are usually colored with the help of marigold extracts include skin, eggs, and yolks. They are also used in bakery products as a colorant. Also besides, their extracts are a boon to the fiber industry wherein they are extensively used to color silk and wool products.

Apart from the basic utilization, these flowers are equally important in other areas as well. Their leaves act as a great sedative and are effective in curing hypersensitiveness. It even acts as a medicine to treat scorpion bites. It plays a vital role in revitalizing sore eyes. This plant plays a vital role in treating eye diseases. Diseases like cataract which require surgery can be easily treated with home remedies. In ancient times it was widely used to cure nausea. Moreover, there have been instances wherein the nectar of this plant was used to cure fever, malaria, etc. In addition, it is a natural substitute for indigestion medicines. The leaves of this plant are safe for internal use and play a vital role in curing hiccups.

Apart from the medicinal usage, this plant continues to benefit the world even after its death. Once this plant dries, the leaves are crushed and used by the Indian women to make tea. This tea is again enriched with medicinal values and helps to cure diarrhea and ague. Many times people in ancient times were observed using the extracts of this plant to treat the wounds of lightening. In Mexico, this plant is crushed in toto to extract juices, which are used as wine. These plants are even used for processing alcohol. The most common type of alcohol that uses the extracts of this plant in their manufacture includes sangria and cola.   It is believed to stimulate lactation in mothers. There are some regions in Mexico that are heavily dependent on this plant for treating serious ailments like heart diseases and cancer. In the era of industrialization wherein, respiratory diseases are becoming common with every passing day, this plant acts as a savior and helps to cure a common cold, flu, etc. 

This plant is also used to prepare food. It is known for its strong flavors and aroma. The leaves of the plant can be used as lettuce. Its combination with salad gives a perfect taste. The leaves of the plant can be eaten and easy to digest. Many chefs around the world are dependent on this flower to prepare sauces and soups. This plant is also used to convert the boring butter into an interesting one. The aroma of the leaves is infused to the butter for giving it a mouth-watering taste. In many places like Costa Rica, it is famous as a herb.  The aroma of the plant is not only used in food but also used in the manufacture of perfumes. This plant is flushed with essential oils. They are primarily antioxidants. 

Apart from these abovementioned uses, this plant is also famous in various traditions and rituals. In many countries like India and Mexico, these flowers play a very important role. The natives of these countries find their ceremonies to be incomplete without the presence of these flowers. This flower is famously known as the flower of the dead. This phrase is particularly original to Mexico. This plant is extensively used at the times of funerals. The plant is crushed to extract the essential oils. These essential oils are then added to water. This mixture is then used to wash dead bodies. This practice is followed in the old towns of Honduras. There is a particular function called Dia De Muertos. This is celebrated annually on a fixed date. This date is usually the second day of November. 

This plant has been extensively used for religious ceremonies for the Catholic. Apart from that, there has been an excessive reliance on this plant for decorating the altars of religious places. The famous All Saints’ Day is incomplete without the presence of these flowers. These flowers on this day are used for decorating skulls which are made up of sugar and wood. 

Mexican Marigold

Distribution

This plant is usually found in Mexico. The country in line is infamous Guatemala. The major producers of this plant are scattered over the entire world. The most famous producers of this species include the ones from the famous tropical zone. The tropical zones usually cover the areas of South America, Central America, Africa. Even some parts of the Indian Ocean are covered by the production of Mexican Marigold. It has the best product in pine forests which are covered with oak trees. It usually grows best in the habitat which comprises warm temperatures accompanied by a humid climate. 

This plant demands swampy soils that are well-drained in nature. It requires sunlight throughout the year. This is the reason that tropical zones have the best production of this plant. These plants are also found across Zambia. However, Zambia is considered to be the country with the minimum production of this species. It can also be found in Australia and China. It is densely scattered over the Caribbean as well. 

Environmental Impact 

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, this flower is extremely beneficial for the environment. It produces the secretions which act as insecticide and pesticide. In certain countries like Nigeria, these flowers are buried in the earth and then an attempt is made to assert pressure over the ground. Once this process is accomplished, the plant secret some liquids. These liquids are called essential oils. This plays an important role in nourishing the soil and supplying the earth with the proper nutrients and minerals. However, such a process can at times yield a peculiar smell. This smell is used by the farmers as an insect repellent. In conclusion, this plant acts as a nitrogen fixer in the soil. 

Precautions 

Apart from the benefits, it is important to take certain precautions with this plant. The most important one of them is that it might be allergic to some people. Therefore, it is essential to be careful while handling this plant. Also, consumption of anything which has been prepared by using this plant is likely to cause drowsiness. This may result in laziness. There have been reported instances wherein this plant has increased the risk of bleeding. One needs to be extremely cautious in handling the plant. Furthermore, people having sensitive skin should be extremely careful while touching this plant. It can cause irritation. Any contact with the sap of the plant might increase the risk of causing dermatitis. 

Conclusion

Therefore, this plant holds an exclusive value in the lives of the people of Mexico. It has diverse utilization. Be it medicinal or ornamental, this plant is able to play vivid roles in various forms. Apart from being an antioxidant, it is also a beneficial condiment. It has a great environmental role to play as well. It replenishes the nutrients of the soil just like fertilizers do. These plants are a perfect substitute for harmful and man-made fertilizers that harm the soil in many ways. Therefore, it becomes the duty of the residents to protect and conserve this species from extinction so that it continues to serve mankind in the long run.

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