Khaki Weed

This is a genus of about 50 species of annuals and perennials, distributed mainly in tropical and warm parts of the Americas. Marigolds grown as bedding plants mostly come from two Mexican species: Tagetes erecta (African or Aztec marigold, cempazuchil) and T. patula (French marigold). Both have similar medicinal and culinary uses and feature in religious rituals in both Mexico and India; the association of T. patula with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day in Mexico dates back to pre-Columbian ceremonies. Tagetes lucida was used to flavor chocólatl, the foaming, cocoa-based drink of the Aztecs. It is one of several Tagetes species that have a tarragon-like flavor including T. anisatum (anise marigold) and T. filifolia (Irish Lace Marigold, hierba anis). Other species with culinary uses have quite different aromas; T. lemmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy) has a lemon-mint scent; and in T. tenuifolia (signet marigold) the leaves and flowers smell like lemons. Tagetes minuta is grown mainly for medicinal purposes but also has unusual importance in horticulture, because of its root extracts, known as thiophenes; these sulphur compounds, inhibit the growth of nematodes (eelworms), which cause extensive damage to a wide range of cultivated plants. Thiophenes may also inhibit the growth of other plants-an effect that has been put to good use in the control of invasive weeds. Tagetes marigolds should not be confused with the pot or common marigold (Calendula officinales, See, Pot Marigold), which has quite different properties. Tagetes is name after Tages, an Etruscan deity, who sprang from the earth as is was plowed, and revealed the art of divination.

Tall annual with leafy, branched stems and strongly aromatic leaves, divided into 11-17 narrowly lanceolate segements, to 15cm (6in) long. Pale yellow flowers, 5mm (¼in) across are produced in dense clusters in autumn.

Common Name:
Khaki Weed
Other Names:
Muster-John-Henry, Stinking Roger
Botanical Name:
Tagetes minuta
Native Location:
C and S America; widely naturalized
Well-drained, fertile soil in sun. Deadhead plants to prolong flowering. Botrytis and foot rot may affect plants. Tagetes minuta and, to a lesser extent, T. patula, are widely used in companion planting; the former has an irritant sap that may cause dermatitis; the latter is often used to repel soil nematodes, slugs, and whitefly from tomatoes, though cultivars vari in effectiveness.
By seed sown in spring, at 21°C (70°F)
Plants are cut when flowering and distilled for oil, or dried for infusions. Tagetes lucida and T. minuta are used in ointments for external use. Leaves (T. lucida, T. patula) and flowers (T. patula) are picked in summer for use either fresh or dried in infusions.
30cm-1m (1-3ft)
10-75cm (4-30in)
Frost hardy to half hardy
Parts Used:
Whole Plant, oil.
A strongly aromatic, diuretic, purgative herb that relaxes spasms, improves digestion, destroys intestinal parasites, and is effective against many pathogenic organisms. It is an effective insecticide.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for gastritis, indigestion, and intestinal worms. Externally for hemorrhoids and skin infections.
Culinary Uses:
Dried leaves give an apple-like aroma to soups, meat dishes, and vegetables.
Economic Uses:
Plants are grown to protect crops against nematodes and slugs, and to suppress perennial weeds, such as Aegopodium podagraria (See, Goutweed), Calystegia sepium (Bindweed), and Elymus repens (See, Quack Grass). Dried plants are hung indoors or added to bedding to deter insects (Africa). Oil is used in perfumery, commercial food flavoring and tobacco.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp 379-380