Tagetes is not an oil that I choose to work with often.  It has a very strong aroma and that can make it challenging to blend with, and I can often find safer and easier to blend with, oils to choose.  On the other hand, there are some occasions when the Inner Nature of Tagetes will provide exactly what an individual needs to move forward.  A client who is trapped between the dynamic of devotion to their mother but feeling underestimated by their father can’t move forward.  By adding a drop or two of tagetes added to their blend can be the catalyst that helps to unlock their block and they can move forward.   It can help them understand that they do not “have to resolve intra-family tension”.  They are only responsible for themselves and their actions.

Tagetes (Tagetes minuta)(T. erecta)(T. patula) 

Family: Asteraceae

Plant Description:  There are several species that belong to the genus Tagetes.  T. erecta is also known as African marigold, Aztec marigold, and big marigold; French marigold (T. patula) and Mexican marigold (T. minuta).  In all cases, this is a strongly scented annual herb growing to around 30 cm high.  They have bright, orange daisy-like flowers and soft green feathery leaves.  This is a completely different plant to ‘pot’ marigold (Calendula officinalis) with very different properties and constituents.

History/Folklore:  The flower tops of the African marigold (T. erecta) are used in traditional medicine as an anthelmintic and emmenagogue and in treating colic.  

In China, they are used for whooping cough, colds, colic, mumps, sore eyes and mastitis (usually in a decoction). The leaves are used for treating sores and ulcers. 

In India, the flowering tops of T. patula, French marigold, are distilled into a solvent, usually sandalwood oil, to produce ‘Attar Genda’, a popular Indian perfume attar.  In traditional medicine, in India, the juice of the leaves of T. erecta is used as a treatment for eczema. 

Mexican marigold (T. minuta), both the essential oil and the absolute, are used in perfumes.  In traditional medicine, it is used as a stomachic, carminative, diuretic and diaphoretic.  In Peru, the aerial parts of T. minuta are used in decoction as a digestive, vermifuge, cholagogue, sedative in gastric pain, and anti-abortifacient. The Tagetes species are also used for flavoring tobacco and in food flavoring.

Essential Oil 

Extraction:  An essential oil is produced through steam distillation of the fresh flowering herb.  An absolute is also produced through solvent extraction from the fresh flowering herb.

Aroma:  Bitter-green, herbaceous, fruity, powerful, with a citrus hint.

Odor intensity:  Very high.

Perfume Note:  Top to Middle.

Blends well with: Bergamot and other citrus oils, clary sage, jasmine, and lavender.

Perfume Key Qualities:  Penetrating, hypotensive, soothing, relaxing, and narcotic in excess.

Chemistry:  Ketone content can be up to around 50% with around 35% Monoterpenes.

Cautions:  Tisserand and Young say that it is phototoxic, is applied to the skin at over maximum use levels – IFRA recommendations for maximum use levels is 0.01% except for wash-off products.  Check for skin irritations.  Julia Lawless says that the main constituent tagetone might be potentially neurotoxic and that there have been some reported cases of dermatitis with the Tagetes species.  Avoid during pregnancy, while breastfeeding and with young children and babies.


On a physical level used in skin care for athlete’s foot, bunions, calluses, corns, and fungal infections, as well as a decongestant and bronchial dilator for coughs.

On a psychological level, it’s sedative qualities can be helpful for soothing the nervous system.  It has been used for anger, anxiety, depression, panic, and stress.

On a subtle level, in both Christianity and Hinduism, the marigold has a lot of spiritual significance.  The flower is offered to Mother Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th of every year). This is the day when the angel Gabriel came to Mother Mary to tell her of Jesus Christ’s coming. On this day, in some traditions, marigold seeds are sown in pots as a symbol for auspiciousness and patience to await the divine.  In Hinduism too, the flower symbolizes auspiciousness. The saffron/orange color signifies renunciation and hence is offered to God as a symbol of surrender. It symbolizes trust in the divine and a will to overcome obstacles.

In Dr. Bruce Berkowsky’s Spiritual PhytoEssencing, Tagetes has the themes of “Devotion to his mother” as well as “feeling underestimated by their father and looking for their father’s blessing (or approval)”.  This leads to the theme of “If I resolve intra-family tension, everything will be okay”.  On a more subtle note, often present is the theme of “awareness of one’s mortality”.

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Reference Steffen Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, 1960
Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils ©1998-2018 Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
Tony Burfield, Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours & Origins, 2000
Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol V, 1948 reprinted 1972
Julia Lawless, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Sourcebook, 2017
Tisserand and Young, 2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, 2014
Leung & Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics.

You will find profiles of many other essential oils in the Articles Archive