Skip to main content

Dwarf Marigold

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Schkuhria pinnata

Botanical Family:


Other Common Name:

Canchalagua, dwarf Mexican marigold, khaki bush, pinnate false threadleaf, schkuhria, starry skies, bitterbossie, chanchalagua, onyalo biro, pichana, pillaguay, tacote, tlanchalagua, yellow tumbleweed (Quattrocchi, 2012; Gupta, 2008; Taylor, 2012; Torkelson, 1996; Smith, 1966).

Where is it found?

This annual bushy and weedy herb is native to South America. Canchalagua is an important medicinal and insecticidal plant in various countries, including Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Canchalagua has been introduced to various regions of Mexico, the Southwestern United States, and Africa (Alonso and Desmarchelier, 2015; Mabberley, 2008; 2012).

One of the common names used in many Spanish American countries, “canchalagua”, is also used to describe a very different plant species (Centaurium chilensis - Gentianaceae), another medicinal plant native to Chile (Berdonces, 2009).

Parts of the plant used:

The whole plant.

How is it used?

The whole fresh plant is sliced and steeped in hot water to make a tea (infusion). In addition, the dried plant can be decocted (boiled in water) and taken as a tea for various ailments (Taylor, 2012).

What is it used for?

The plant has a wide variety of medical uses including the following: antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, digestive upset, coughs, diuretic, diabetes, kidney and liver problems, malaria, allergies, varicose veins, fungal (yeast) infections, obesity, prostate inflammation, bloating, diarrhea, rheumatism, skin conditions (acne, dermatitis, and eczema). Te tea is also taken to regulate hormones, urinary tract infections and kidney pain, as well as to help digestion (antispasmodic actions). Externally, a decoction of the plant is applied to the skin as an antiseptic for wounds. In Latin American countries, the plant is dried and pulverized for its use as a household insecticide or, repellant, especial for lice and fleas. Various studies in Africa and Latin America show that the plant possesses antimicrobial action against various bacterial and fungal species (Alonso and Desmarchelier, 2015; Masevhe et al., 2015; Quattrocchi, 2012; Mostacero et al., 2011; Wagate et al., 2010; Duke et al., 2009; Gupta, 2008; Taylor, 2012; Sung, 1996).

A study by Carraz et al. (2015) showed that a crude extract obtained from dwarf marigold demonstrated anti-proliferative actions on Hep3B hepatocellular carcinoma cells, thus corroborating the traditional medicinal use of the plant for the treatment of liver ailments.

Mokoka et al (2013) showed that extracts from various medicinal plants, including dwarf marigold, contained bioactive active ingredients against various protozoan parasites, such as Trypanosoma brucei, T. cruzi, Leishmania donovani, and Plasmodium falciparum.

A study by Deutschländer et al. (2009) found the acetone extracts obtained from dwarf marigold exhibited anti-diabetic activity in vitro, but also showed cellular toxicity, thus raising concern for prolonged treatments.
Methanol extracts of dwarf marigold have been shown to be active against Plasmodium berghei, one of the protozoan parasites that cause malaria in Africa (Muthaura et al., 2007).
A decoction made from the root taken as a tea has been touted as a treatment for weight loss, although no clinical trials to confirm this are presently known (Alonso and Desmarchelier, 2015; Toursarkissian, 1980).


Safety / Precautions


  • The safety of using dwarf marigold (canchalagua) during pregnancy and lactation has not been established (Alonso and Desmarchelier, 2015; Gupta, 2008).
  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation (Alonso and Desmarchelier, 2015).
  • This plant should not be used for prolonged treatments (Deutschländer et al., 2009).

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!



  • Alonso J, Desmarchelier C. Plantas Medicinales Autóctonas de la Argentina 2a ed.
    Buenos Aires, Editorial Corpus; 2015; pp. 123-127.
  • Berdonces JL. Gran Diccionario de las Plantas Medicinales.
    Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Oceano; 2009; pp. 272-273.
  • Carraz M, Lavergne C, Jullian V, Wright M, Gairin JE, Gonzales de la Cruz M, Bourdy G. Antiproliferative activity and phenotypic modification induced by selected Peruvian medicinal plants on human hepatocellular carcinoma Hep3B cells.
    J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 ;166:185-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.02.028.
  • Deutschländer MS, van de Venter M, Roux S, Louw J, Lall N. Hypoglycaemic activity of four plant extracts traditionally used in South Africa for diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; 124(3):619-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.04.052.
  • Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, Ottensen R. Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2009; pp. 612-614.
  • Gupta M. Plantas Medicinales Iberoamericanas.
    Bogotá, Colombia: CYTED; 2008; pp. 227-230.
  • Mabberley D J. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
    London: Cambridge University Press; 2008; p. 778.
  • Masevhe NA, McGaw LJ, Eloff JN. The traditional use of plants to manage candidiasis and related infections in Venda, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 ;168:364-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.03.046.
  • Mokoka TA1, Xolani PK, Zimmermann S, Hata Y, Adams M, Kaiser M, Moodley N, Maharaj V, Koorbanally NA, Hamburger M, Brun R, Fouche G. Antiprotozoal screening of 60 South African plants, and the identification of the antitrypanosomal germacranolides schkuhrin I and II. Planta Med. 2013 ;79(14):1380-4. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1350691.
  • Mostacero-León J, Castillo-Picón F, Mejía-Coico F, Gamarra-Torres O, Charcape-Ravelo J, Ramírez-Vargas R. Plantas Medicinales del Perú. Trujillo: Asamblea Nacional de Rectores; 2011; p. 554.
    Muthaura CN, Rukunga GM, Chhabra SC, Omar SA, Guantai AN, Gathirwa JW, Tolo FM, Mwitari PG, Keter LK, Kirira PG, Kimani CW, Mungai GM, Njagi EN. Antimalarial activity of some plants traditionally used in Meru district of Kenya. Phytother Res. 2007; 21(9):860-7.
  • Quattrocchi U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (Vol. 5).
    Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; p. 192.
  • Smith CA. Common Names of South African Plants.
    Pretoria: Dept. of Agricultural Technical Services – Botanical Memoir No. 35; 1966; p. 107.
    Soukup J. Vocabulario de los Nombres Vulgares de la Flora Peruana.
    Lima, Perú: Editorial Salesiana; 1980; p. 101.
  • Sung I. Fitomedicina Vol 1.
    Lima, Perú: Editorial Isabel; 1996; p. 139.
  • Taylor L. Raintree Tropical Plant Database; 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  • Torkelson A. The Cross Name Index to Medicinal Plants. Vol. 3.
    Boca Raton, FL.: CRC Press; 1996; p. 1223.
  • Toursarkissian M. Plantas Medicinales de la Argentina.
    Buenos Aires: Editorial Hemisferio Sur, 1980; p. 39.
  • Wagate CG, Mbaria JM, Gakuya DW, Nanyingi MO, Kareru PG, Njuguna A, Gitahi N, Macharia JK, Njonge FK. Screening of some Kenyan medicinal plants for antibacterial activity.
    Phytother Res. 2010 ;24(1):150-3. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2866.
  • White R. Elsevier’s Dictionary of Plant Names of North America Including Mexico.
    Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2003; p. 177.