You’ve probably heard of birthstones, but did you know you have birth flowers, depending on the month in which you were born? These are the two flowers most commonly associated with October.
Calendula officinalis, the common or pot marigold, is a popular annual plant with yellow to orange daisy- or chrysanthemum-like flowers. For reasons that are not clear, the first part of its Latin name comes from calendae, meaning calends, the first day of the month. Officinalis derives from oficina, the part of a monastery where medicines and other items were stored, because the marigold was believed to have healing properties.
The common marigold is still widely used around the world to heal cuts and bruises. Its flowers and leaves are edible, and can be used in soups, salads, and other dishes. It also makes a spectacularly eyecatching garnish.
Calendula is not to be confused with the African and French marigolds, which are members of the Tagetes genus. As a birthday flower for October, and because of its resemblance to the sun, it is associated with warmth, love, and creativity.
The cosmos is a member of the sunflower family. It is a herbaceous perennial or annual, ranging from one to six feet high and with flowers in a huge range of colours.
One member of the genus, Cosmos atrosanguineus, is a real conversation piece. Its red-to-almost-black flowers are gorgeous to look at – but take a sniff and you’ll find out why its common name is chocolate cosmos. It was first described by William Hooker, who travelled the world in search of plants and became director of Kew Gardens in 1841. Although common in cultivation, it has not been seen in the wild since 1878.
As a birth flower for October, the cosmos is associated with order, tranquility, and balance.
January: Carnation or snowdrop
February: Violet or primrose
March: Daffodil or jonquil
April: Daisy or sweet pea
May: Lily of the valley or hawthorn
June: Rose or honeysuckle
July: Larkspur or water lily
August: Gladiolus or poppy
October: Calendula or cosmos
December: Narcissus (paperwhite) or holly