Tagetes (Compositae, tribe Helenieae) is a diverse genus, comprised of strongly scented species, some of which are today commonly known as "marigolds." Their natural range extends from southwestern United States into Argentina, and the area of their greatest diversity is in south-central Mexico. Several species have become well established horticulturally, and records of their cultivation and extensive use by Indian tribes in Mexico and South America extend back before the time of the Conquistadores (12, 35). The preColumbian Indians believed that many of the more aromatic "marigolds" had lifesaving and magical properties. In fact, these plants, from both cultivated and uncultivated sources, had an unbelievable array of uses running the gamut from the religious to the mundane. Though many Indians still employ these plants in much the same way as their ancestors, education and its subsequent effect on superstition has greatly tempered modern usage.