The ray florets have been used in lettuce salads and other foods to add colour and flavour. The dried flower petals, ground to a powder, may be used in poultry feed to ensure a good colouration of egg yolks and broiler skin, especially in the absence of well-pigmented yellow maize in the feed. This is still a use today, but now usually in the form of an extract which may have advantages of lower transport and storage cost, better stability and better utilisation. It is also used to enhance colouring in crustaceans, such as the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei).
The oil of the flower may be added to perfumes to infuse an apple scent into them. Today, T. erecta is grown to extract lutein, a common yellow/orange food colour (E161b). The essential oil of the flower contains antioxidants.
Since prehispanic times, this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The Cherokee used it as a skin wash and for yellow dye. This marigold may help protect certain crop plants from nematode pests when planted in fields. It is most effective against the nematode species Pratylenchus penetrans.
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