The Death Skull Marigold Society
What may seem like a benign garden flower really has a history that dates back to the Aztecs. Did you know that these plants that quietly live among us are used to welcome the dead back to their homes in Mexico? As one of the most popular garden flowers, marigolds can be found in almost any city in the world, sequestering carbon, and adding color to even the most drab landscapes.
- French Marigolds - these are the smaller growing marigolds that can be single and double, and come in red yellow, orange brown and combinations of the above. Together they comprise the species Tagetes patula.
- African Marigolds - these are the taller growing marigolds with more standard looking "puff ball" marigold flowers, usually solid yellow or solid orange. They are in the species Tagetes erecta
Both French and African marigolds are closely related, and they originally come from Mexico and Guatemala. They were grown by indigenous peoples such as the Aztecs long before the arrival of Europeans. The Aztecs associated marigolds with the dead, and this association survives today as marigolds are used to welcome the dead back into their houses during the Mexican "Dia de los Muertes" festival. Click here to see some marvelous paintings of "calaveras" or skeletons from the Dia de los Muertes festival - one is putting marigolds in her hair! Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA has a Dia de los Muertos and Marigold parade!
Here is a great webpage that describes the uses of marigolds by the Aztecs.
I have never seen photos of marigolds in the wild. If anyone knows of any, please let me know.
Marigolds arrive in Europe
Marigolds go by other names throughout the world, here are a few:
- cempasuchil - in Mexico, usually referring to the larger African marigold. The word comes from Nahuatl and literally means "twenty flower".
- Flor de Muertos - also in Mexico, literally "flower of the dead"
- Studentenblume - in German, literally "Students' flower" - I would be interested in learning the origin of this name, if anyone has any info, let me know.
- Genda - in Hindi, marigolds are very popular in India
Marigolds in India
And here are some amazing photos taken by Arnab Chatterjee:
The White Marigold
Marigold Seed Exchange
About the Death Skull Marigold Society
Marigolds, however, are the future. They are growth. They are unstoppable. They will be spreading their influence long after you are in your grave. We need a union of individuals of a different caliber. Men and women to act as emissaries between the marigold world and the human world.
There is nothing more awesome and powerful than the transformation of a little nothing seed into a tremendous solar-powered self-replicating factory. Gardeners are the wizards that guide these amazing creatures to dominate and transform their landscape. Why not borrow some terms from the marigolds rich heritage to add a little edge. Marigolds represent a bright and glorious future. This is not your grandma's garden club. OK, maybe it is if your grandma is really tough, and I know some are. This is the Death Skull Marigold Society. We are not here to have tea, we are here to grow marigolds, to exchange marigolds, to breed marigolds, and to help the people of the world stop wasting their time and land on grass and television, and embrace the path of the marigold!
Join the Death Skull Marigold Society
That is it. You are now a member of the Death Skull Marigold Society in good standing.
- I pledge myself to advancing the understanding and appreciation of marigolds whenever possible.
- I will grow marigolds whenever and wherever possible.
- I will pester my friends and relatives, if I have any, to grow and appreciate marigolds.
- Marigolds everywhere! Marigolds forever!