Earth logo

Blackbrows, Velveteens, and Imeretian Saffron:

The curious story and medicinal properties of an outlander taking root in new country

By Salomé SaffiriPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
Ukrainian girl in Marigold headdress

Marigold as one of many National symbols of Ukraine

How had it become one, not being a native flower? Many years ago, arriving in an oiled leather satchel, the seeds were thrown into unfamiliar, but welcoming Ukrainian soil. They grew strong and tall stalks, nourished by abundant rains and nutritious turf. Fringed leaves unfurled and spread, golden heads bloomed and filled out with velvety broad petals. Hence one of the names assigned to it in Ukraine- Velveteens. The accommodating flower bloomed early and stayed bright throughout the summer, it dried beautifully and filled the house with warm scent during the winter. Marigolds were added to wreaths and headdresses, embroidered on shirts and grown around the houses as a symbol of good fortune. The Ukrainians have grown to love the versatile flower so much they composed legends and sang songs about it, so the flower had become a part of Ukrainian culture, taking deep root in folklore.

Marigold Embroidery

Imagine my surprise when I came face-to face with a familiar burnt-orange flower from "home" on unfamiliar American soil. Little did I know, that it was, indeed, in it's home in America, making Ukraine it's secondary "terra firma". Researching the origin of Marigold I couldn't help but observe a personal irony: Marigold- native to Central America was brought to Ukraine, versus me- a native Ukrainian, who was brought to America. And here we are, looking at each other in this brief moment in passing. Marigold asks me:

"Have my roots taken in your country?"

I'm asking Marigold: "Will my roots ever take in yours?"

What about the name Blackbrows?

Ukrainian population is notoriously beautiful, prominent feature having always been luscious black brows. The odes to such odd feature have been sang for centuries in novels and poems, admired and noted when courting. The brows were brought up so often that soon they have become a synonym for beauty and handsomeness respectively. The Ukrainian Marigold had recognized that it was in the new land and developed a distinct dark fringe on the edges of petals, giving it a "black brow" look. So it was awarded with an endearing name to remark how beautiful it is and to describe the appearance.

I have arrived to the US on August 14th, a holiday known in Ukraine as Makovia. A holiday that celebrates the summer honey harvest and adorns the jars of liquid gold in fiery marigolds, dried poppies and wheat stalks. It is a religious holiday but for many, it is a celebration of family and hard work. Beautiful bouquets are sold everywhere, that consist of field flowers and are blessed by the church. They are regarded as small totems by the religious folk and just honest and beautiful aromatics by non-religious. My mom has always bought a few to hang around our kitchen. The dry herbs smelled of long summer days and something that I could never quite put my finger on. Something comforting and homey, something that, perhaps, was evoked the ancient, generational memory in my subconscious. Therefore every time I come across a Marigold, I smell it and it brings me back home, to my old country, my old traditions and my old kitchen.

The Imeretian Saffron.

I bet you a hundred bucks, you've never heard of it! Due to the subject of my story, you have probably divined by now that it is a spice derived from drying out the petal of Marigolds. The name comes from the Imereti region in Georgia. After the dying, the flower loses it's strong herbal smell and gains a saturated fruity scent, resembling a mix of ripe persimmon and pomegranate rinds. Indeed it has nothing to do with the actual saffron, except maybe the price, that depends on the manner and quality of drying.

Medicinal uses

Treatment for diabetes: Marigold Tea. Take fifty dark flowers, pour half a liter of vodka and leave for a week. Take one teaspoon of this tincture before meals.

Overcoming colds or sinusitis: Marigold vapor inhalations. Boil a half-liter of water in a kettle, put five buds in it and pour boiling water over. The water should reach the lower base of the spout. Wrap the kettle in a towel. Start the procedure in five minutes. First inhale the air through your mouth and exhale through your nose. When you begin to breathe freely, change tactics: inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

Treatment for bronchitis, coughs, burns and wounds: Marigold oil. Collect fresh flower heads. They should be finely torn by hand, fill a half-liter jar. Do not compact tightly, pour olive oil over. Place the container in the dark for two weeks. Be sure to shake daily. Then drain the oily liquid, squeeze the raw material. Store in a cool place.

Arthritis remedy: Marigold tea. To prepare it, you need to take twenty-five fresh flowers, fill them with boiled water (1 liter), the temperature of which should not exceed 80 ° C. Wrap the dishes and allow to infuse until completely cooled. Strain the finished broth. You need to drink up to 2.5 liters instead of water and tea.

This article does not contain any medical advise, but demonstrates a small fraction of holistic and natural remedies to treat ailments.

Isn't this a wonderful, versatile flower? Looking at it joyful color reduces stress, you can taste it, smell it, touch it- a true treat for senses!

And to leave you on a pleasant ethnic note- please follow the link to listen to a Ukrainian Folk band singing Marigolds


About the Creator

Salomé Saffiri

Writing - is my purpose. I feel elated when my thoughts assume shapes, and turn into Timberwolves, running through the snowbound planes of fresh paper, leaving the black ink of their paw prints behind.

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

    Salomé SaffiriWritten by Salomé Saffiri

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.