This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The Gardener's Chronicle has some very interesting sketches of popular flowers, telling the story of the tales told about them. Of the Marigold it says: "The garden Marigold, another gaudy summer flower, was apparently a very great favorite with our ancestors, although nowadays seldom seen. Thus Shakspeare, speaking of it in his Winter's Tale (act iv., scene 3), says - The Marigold that goes to bed with the sun, And with him rises, weeping - these are flowers of middle summer.'
There is a popular tradition that the name Marigold arose from the circumstance of the Virgin Mary having worn this flower in her bosom. It is called by the French 'Souci du Jardin,' and by the Germans 'Geldblume.' In days gone by it was termed 'Ruddes,' and the author of Grete Herball, in speaking of it says: 'Maydens make garlands of it when they go to feestes and brydeales.' In America the Marigold is termed the 'Death-flower,' from a curious tradition that it sprang up in places where the blood of the unfortunate Mexicans had been shed, who were destroyed by the Spaniards."
The American part of the account requires amplification. We never heard of the yellow garden Marigold called "Death-flower" in America, and by the English name "Death-flower" we must understand English speaking America. But as the Mexican and Spaniard are introduced, it is probable that the Spanish massacre of friendly Mexicans, in the City of Mexico, is referred to; it may be that there is in Mexico a plant called by a name which would mean "Death-flower" if translated to the English language. But if there is a flower in Mexico with such a name, and such a legend attached to it, it is unlikely to be the Marigold connected with the tradition of the Virgin Mary, the Calendula officinalis, but more probably a species of Tagetes, which is known in gardens as French Marigold, many species of which are natives of Mexico, while the Marigold of the Virgin Mary is wild in the countries of Southern Europe.
To many these matters, connected with the true histories of plants from a popular standpoint, may seem of little importance, so far as strict accuracy goes. But we are inclined to believe these popular histories are often very instructive in various ways, and should be rendered as strictly accurate as any.