Tagetes erecta, the Mexican marigold, also called Aztec marigold, is a species of the genus Tagetes native to Mexico and Central America. Despite its being native to the Americas, it is often called African marigold. In Mexico, this plant is found in the wild in the states of San Luis Potosí, Chiapas, State of México, Puebla, Sinaloa, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. This plant reaches heights of between 50–100 cm (20–39 in). The Aztecs gathered the wild plant as well as cultivating it for medicinal, ceremonial and decorative purposes. It is widely cultivated commercially with many cultivars in use as ornamental plants.
Its flower, the cempasúchil is also called the flor de muertos ("flower of the dead") in Mexico and is used in the Día de los Muertos celebration every 2nd of November. The word cempasúchil (also spelled cempazúchil) comes from the Nahuatl term for the flower zempoalxochitl, literally translated as "twenty flower". In Thai language it is called ดาวเรือง [DaoRuang], literally translated as "star glittering". Water infused with the fragrant essential oil of the flower was used to wash corpses in Honduras, and the flower is still commonly planted in cemeteries.
Traditional medicine 
Since prehispanic times, this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The Cherokee used it as a skin wash and for yellow dye. Scientific study shows that thiophenes, natural phytochemicals that include sulfur-containing rings, may be the active ingredients. They have been shown to kill gram negative and gram positive bacteria in vitro. This marigold may help protect certain crop plants from nematode pests when planted in fields. It is most effective against the nematode species Pratylenchus penetrans.
The flower petals have been used in lettuce salads and other foods to add colour and flavour. The dried flower petals, ground to a powder, may be used in poultry feed to ensure a good colouration of egg yolks and broiler skin, especially in the absence of well-pigmented yellow maize in the feed. This is still a use today, but now usually in the form of an extract which may have advantages of lower transport and storage cost, better stability and better utilization. It is also used to enhance coloring in crustaceans, such as the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei).
Other uses 
- GRIN Species Profile
- NC State Horticulture
- Protabase: Tagetes erecta
- Olabiyi, T. I. and E. E. A. Oyedunmade (2007). "Marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) as interplant with cowpea for the control of nematode pests". African Crop Science Conference Proceedings 8: 1075–1078.
- W. Leigh Hadden, Ruth H. Watkins, Luis W. Levy, Edmundo Regalado, Diana M. Rivadeneira, Richard B. van Breemen & Steven J. Schwartz (1999). "Carotenoid composition of marigold (Tagetes erecta) flower extract used as nutritional supplement". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 47 (10): 4189–4194. doi:10.1021/jf990096k. PMID 10552789.
- J. T. Ponce-Palafox, J. L. Arredondo Figueroa & E. J. Vernon Carter (2006). "Carotenoids from plants used in diets for the culture of the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)" (PDF). Revista Mexicana de Ingeniería Química 5 (2): 157–165.
- Lutein from Tagetes erecta
- Rosa Martha Pérez Gutiérrez, Heliodoro Hernández Luna & Sergio Hernández Garrido (2006). "Antioxidant activity of Tagetes erecta essential oil". Journal of the Chilean Chemical Society 51 (2): 883–886. doi:10.4067/S0717-97072006000200010.
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