Amber's Organics LLC Medical Herb Seed A-Z > Desert Marigold
Desert Marigold

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Desert Marigold  (Baileya multiradiata)

Baileya multiradiata, the desert marigold or paper daisy, is from the aster family and is native to the United States. It is a showy flower that is long lasting in bloom but a short-lived perennial.

History
Marigold comes from the Anglo-Saxon and has been associated historically with the Virgin Mary. The name has always been seen as a derivative of the words “Mary’s gold”. It is a good plant to use in religious gardening and Mary gardens.

The “Baileya” part of the botanical name comes from Jacob Whitman Bailey, a botanist. “Multiradiata” was picked to signify and classify that the flower has profuse ray flowers (multi-ray) in the flower head.

Description
The flowers are yellow and grow on almost leafless stems. Leaves are wooly and gray, the hair helping to reflect UV rays. Blooms are like daisies that turn papery as they mature, hence why it is called the paper daisy. It tends to flower throughout summer and fall and can be seen along roadsides in the desert. It grows 10 to 30 inches tall with 1 to 2 inch wide flower blooms.

Hairs on leaves or stems are common in the desert as they are able to increase the light reflection. This means that there is lower leaf temperatures to deal with, a great adaptation technique for plants in the desert.

Growth
Growth of the desert marigold should be in partial shade in dry, sandy or gravelly, soils. The heat and poor soil is perfect for this plant. It needs little water to survive. The gardener can use this as an ornamental plant to bring butterflies into the landscape; however it will also attract insects and bees to the nectar as well.

Propagation
To propagate the Baileya multiradiata one must use seed. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep into the soil in the autumn season. There should be many sown as their germination can be erratic. The seed is commercially available to be bought.

Locations
The desert marigold is a common occurrence in the 100 to 6500 feet elevations of the desert. Some of the locations that have documented occurrences of the flower include the Mojave Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico, southern Arizona, southern Nevada, and SW Utah.

Desert marigold has had compounded extracted (radiatin, baileyolin, and fastiglin) by researchers at Arizona State University in hopes that they can be used in cancer therapy. They are looking into the desert marigold’s use as a possible tumor inhibitor.

Form: herbaceous perennial; sprawling groundcover; self sows
Seasonality: perennial
Size: 1ft tall, 2ft across
Leaves: alternate, deeply lobed, silverish, woolly; leaves low on thick stems
Flowers: bright yellow, solitary, to 2in across born on stalks held above foliage; petals fade leaving distinctive large button; bloom in early spring through mid summer
Fruit: large amount of seed in flower button
Stems/Trunks: n/a
Range/Origin: large range, all of Western US and Mexico in elevations below 5000ft
Hardiness: damaged below 32°F

 

 
 
 
LANDSCAPE VALUE:
 
  • native flower mixes
  • xeriscape
  • color
  • revegetation
  • also makes a nice girl's name
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS:
 
 
 
  • Exposure: full sun, reflected heat
  • Water: natural rainfall, drought tolerant; give some water during long dry spells
  • Soil: tolerant, good drainage
  • Propagation: seeds, best when gathered in fall, germination weak at other times of year
  • Maintenance: remove spent flowers before heat

 

 
 
 

NOTES: thrives in disturbed areas rapid grower when given water