- From the Nahuatl cempohualxochitl, which means “twenty-flowers” or “of the four-hundred petals”
- It is known as the “flower of the dead,” because it is used as a decoration in offerings and altars set up during the celebration of the Day of the Dead
IIt is an aromatic flower ranging in hues from bright orange to yellow. The plant’s height varies from 30 to 110 cm. Its botanical name is Tagetes erecta, although outside of Mexico it is also called Tagetes for short or more simply marigold.
In Mexico, where it is known as “flower of the dead,” its ornamental and ritual use dates back to ancient Mesoamerica. The flower of the plant blossoms once a year, which coincides with the dates of the Day of the Dead, at the beginning of November.
The cempasúchil flower is attributed with medicinal properties to calm digestive ailments or those produced by intestinal parasites. Its petals are also used to calm the symptoms caused by fever and even in the prevention of eye diseases.
Although the plant is not eaten, it always accompanies offerings of food that adorn altars during Day of the Dead celebrations, which originated in Aztec civilization. According to tradition, it serves to guide the souls of the dead, who follow the trail of bright petals from the door of the home to the altar set up in their honor.
- 859 hectares are cultivated with cempasúchil flowers in Mexico
- 7 of every 10 hectares of cempasúchil flowers are in Puebla
- 5 of every 10 bunches of cempasúchil flowers come from the state of Michoacán
- Puebla, the State of Mexico, Michoacán and the Federal District are the leading entities in the nation’s production of marigolds
- It costs producers about 2,343.55 pesos to produce a ton of cempasúchil flowers