October Flower Lore: Calendula and Cosmos

Learn about the history and lore surrounding October's birth flower, calendula.

Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.

There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.

Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. The official flower for October is calendula, also known as “pot marigold.”

Calendula is a musky-smelling perennial flower that can grow to be up to about 31” tall. The flowers are generally yellow, orange, or some combination of the two, with a large number of curly-edged petals. Though they can be grown at any time the climate allows, their golden coloring makes them a popular potted plant during the fall.

The name calendula comes from a belief among the ancient Romans that the plant always flowered on the first day of the month, or “calends.” Other popular names include Bride of the Sun, Drunkard, Goldes, Holigolde, Marybud, Marygold, Mary Goweles, Ruddes, Ruddles, Spousa Solis, and Summer’s Bride.

The petals are edible and make a popular addition to salads. They also make an attractive garnish. Due to their bold coloring, they have been historically used to make cosmetics and fabric dyes throughout much of the world.

The Romans used calendula to treat scorpion bites. It has also been used to relieve cramps, promote gastrointestinal health, heal wounds, boils, and bruises.

In the middle ages, calendula was one ingredient in a popular potion that was said to allow the drinker to see faeries. According to flower lore, sending someone calendula means “my thoughts are with you.”

Another Flower Attributed to October Is Cosmos

cosmos flower in bloom pinkish petals

The name cosmos refers to any of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials native to the southern U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. In good soil, the plants can grow to be nearly 7 feet tall. The flowers themselves have a central disk, usually yellow, with petals surrounding it, similar to members of the daisy family. Colors vary among the many species, from white through pink and light purple to golden yellows and oranges.

The name cosmos comes from the Greek word for harmony. Gardeners will frequently give a gift of cosmos, because they are said to bring good luck. Cosmos are lucky in at least one sense: they repel pests, which makes them a popular companion plant in many gardens.

According to the Victorian language of flowers, cosmos represent modestly. They are also often associated with a couple’s second wedding anniversary.

Join The Discussion!

What is your favorite fall flower?

Do you love calendula or cosmos more?

Have you ever used flowers as herbal remedies?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Farmers' Almanac - Itch
Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Sandra Ledford

Always enjoy the articles. Takes me back to my grandparents kitchen table and always seeing the Farmers Almana; hanging ; by a piece of twine on a nail, 0n the kitchen wall in arms reach……

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