OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312



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Wyrtig - In early sources

Calendula. Many thanks to the British
Library for providing this image from
 Edgerton 747:30 c. 1300 CE.

In Early Sources...


Calendula officinalis

Growing calendula in your garden


Calendula has been used over the centuries for a variety of medicinal purposes. Its leaves and flowers were used as a mild stimulant, to prevent or treat fever, for skin diseases, to cause sweating, and to ease muscle cramps. Just looking at the flower helped heal eye disorders.


The Romans called the first day of a month the calendae. Calendula flowered so abundantly in Roman gardens that it seemed to be in bloom on the calendae of every month, thus meriting the name calendula.

Medieval Names

Many of calendula's other names in the old herbals are poetic in themselves. As the sponsa solis, calendula is the spouse of the sun, and solaris herba means the sun's herb. With the advent of Christianity, calendula was associated with another divine spouse, the Virgin Mary, and came to be called Mary's golde, marigold. Another of its names, vertamnus, is the name of a shapeshifting Etruscan and then Roman god of gardens and orchards, seasons, change, and plant growth.

Calendula plantsThe ruddy gold color of the flowers is recalled in such names as rodelwort, ruddos, rodes, rodewort, ruddis, and, simply, golde.

Calendula flowers open in sunshine, and so it was also called sun (sigel, sol) follower or turner (hweorf) -- in Old English, sensigle, solsecle, solwherf, sigilhweorfa; in Latin, solsequium, heliotrope or eliatrope. Ymbglide, glide together, may also refer to this trait.


Solsequium solsce, solsece
Eliotropiae sigilhwerue
Solsequium solsce, solsece

Capitulare de Villis


Herbarium Apuleii

Be e grecas heliotrophus 7 romane uertamnum
nemna 7 eac angle sigelhweorfa hata
liotrophus ƀ is sigelhweorfa
Eliotropus ƀ is sigilhweorfa
Man solate 7 orum naman solosece nemne
Solata ƀ is solosece




Sigelhweorfan, sigelhweorfa
Sigelhweorfan a smalan unwscene
Calendula in medieval works

That sight upon that semly,

to bliss he is broght;

He is solsecle:

To sauve is forsought.

"Annot and Iohon," Harley 2253

One who seemly sees this,

to bliss he is brought;

She is calendula,

for salvation sought..

"Annot and Iohon,"
Harley 2253


Heo is lilie of largesse,

Heo is parwenke of prowesse,

Heo is solsecle of swetnesse,

and lady of lealte.

"Blou northerne wynd," Harley 2253

She is the lily of generosity,

She is the periwinkle of prowess,

She is the solsequium of sweetness,

and the lady of loyalty.

"Blow, Northern Wind" Harley 2253


LI. Eliotropia, sive Solissequa

Sponte mea nascor fecundo

cespite vernans

Fulgida de croceo flavescunt

culmina flore

Occiduo claudor, sic orto

sole patesco

Unde prudentes posuerunt

nomina Graeci

Aldhelm, Enigmata LI

LI. Heliotrope, or solsequium

Spontaneously my fertile land

brings forth spring

Shining flowers turn the summit

saffron gold

Lesser settings fade, plants

alone reveal

Why your Greek name is wisely given.

Aldhelm, Riddle LI


e golde flour is good to sene,

it maky e syht bryt and clene;

wyscely to lokyn on his flowres,

drawe owt of e heed

e wikked hirores.

Macer, De Viribus Herbarum

The calendula flower is good to see,

it makes the sight bright and clear;

wisely to look on its flowers

draws out of the head

the wicked humours.

Macer, On the Strengths of Herbs


Rodewort... is flour hauy a gret vertue, for what day ou seist it, in at day shal nat e feuere take e, e whiche is clepid febris acuta. ...Who at hauy is feuere on him, is si3t wole nat helpe him, but he shal take to him a lef an half lef of is herbe and soke hem in wyne and an drynke at wyn and e leues also.


Calendula ...This flower has great virtue, for on the day you see it, in that day the fever that is called febris acuta shall not affect you... Whoever has this fever already, the sight of calendula will not help him, but he shall take to him one and one-half leaves of this herb and soak them in wine, and then drink that wine and the leaves also.

Macer, On the Strengths of Herbs


Gif mon mi treowe geslegen sie oe mid stane oe byle on men gebersted . to on dolh sealf . gytrife . ontre . gelowyrt . sigelhweorfa . gecnuwa a wyrta swie gemeng wel wi buteran y on a ilcan wisan gerena the ic aer cwe.

Leechbook, I.xxxviii.vii

If one be wounded by wood or by stone or if a boil bursts in one * for this wound a salve * corn cockle * silverweed * potentilla * calendula * pound the worts smooth mix well with butter as I said above.

Leechbook, I.xxxviii.vii


Sealf wi cancre . genim cu meoluc butan wtere lt weoran to fletum gewer to buteran ne wrc on wtre. Nim sigelhweorfan a smalan unwrcene do cleane cnuca smooth gemeng wel wi re buteran do on annan ofer fyr awyl swie aseoh wel urh cla lacna mid y.

Leechbook, I.xliv.ii

A salve for cancer * take cow's milk without waterchurn it to creamto make butter do not wash in water. Take the small calendula unwashed make it clean pound it thoroughly mix it well with the butter in a pan over the fire seethe it smooth strain well through a clothcure therewith.

Leechbook, I.xliv.ii


Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.

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