Oregano – Origanum Vulgare
There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding around the correct use of the terms “oregano” and “marjoram.” They don’t always refer to the same plant, but when they do, it’s always interesting. If you add to this the fact that there are oregano varieties from Mexico, Greece, and Spain, the confusion gets even more profound. Let’s try to make some sense of this mess and see if we can clear up some of the misunderstandings.
Oregano, also known as Origanum vulgare, has blooms that are a purplish-pink color and is somewhat more potent than sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana). This has a more compact, tidy, bushy form, with leaves that are grayish green with a faint fuzz and blooms that are white. Both plants bloom throughout the summer, but marjoram has a longer blooming period. Both species were first discovered in Greece and the surrounding Mediterranean areas.
The taste of Mexican oregano, also known as Lippia graveolens, is more robust than that of normal oregano. Other names for this plant include Mexican wild sage and Mexican marjoram. If your recipe asks for Mexican oregano, it is strongly recommended that you do not use any other kind of oregano as a replacement since Mexican oregano has such a distinct taste.
It is stated that Spanish oregano, also known as Origanum vivens, and Greek oregano, also known as Origanum heraclites, are quite similar to common oregano. The fresh leaves of Greek oregano often have a more potent scent, despite the fact that this may not have any bearing on the taste.
Oregano, which is commonly referred to as the “pizza herb,” may be used either fresh or dried and imparts a taste reminiscent of the Mediterranean to otherwise plain foods like chicken or pasta. Oregano has a natural affinity with tomatoes, similar to basil’s relationship with the fruit. It is one of the few plants that retains more of its potency after drying rather than after being fresh.
Oregano has a slow growth rate, yet it may rapidly develop little clusters that are round in shape. It features blooms that are either white or a very light pink color, and its leaves are oval. Flowering occurs from June to September.
The scientific name for origanum vulgare is “wild marjoram.” The natural habitat of this plant is in Europe. It is characterized by having stalks that are a reddish-brown color. There are times when the top leaves have a copper hue to them.
Origanum marjorana is sometimes referred to as sweet marjoram or marjoram with knots. Annual. The leaves are a little bit fluffy and somewhat bigger. The color of the flowers is white.
Origanum onites is also known as pot marjoram, Cretan oregano, and Turkish oregano. It is a member of the mint family. A genuine perennial. The leaves are more heart-shaped and tend to be smaller. Flowers with a light pink hue. The flavor is extremely strong.
Origanum aureum – Golden marjoram or golden oregano. Perennial. has leaves that have a golden sheen and a look that is occasionally dappled. It is a lovely plant to use as a border, and in the summer it bears pink blooms.
Origanum vivens is the scientific name for Spanish oregano.
Origanum heraclites is the scientific name for Greek oregano.
Oregano may be propagated either by seed or by dividing its roots. Due to the fact that the roots grow just below the surface of the soil, it is simple to unearth the plants in the fall by pulling them apart or cutting them apart with a sharp knife.
Oregano, which originated in the Mediterranean region, thrives in a location that is warm, sunny, and protected from the wind. In addition to this, it prefers very rich and loamy soil. Plant seeds at a spacing of 25 centimeters (10 inches) apart, or closer together if the herb is going to be utilized as an edger. The plants have a tendency to get overgrown, so over the summer, they will need pruning back and trimming.
Indoor or Patio Growing
Growing oregano in containers or window boxes is a wonderful use of this herb’s space-saving qualities. When planted on the patio, pot marjoram (O. onites) may be started in the fall from rooted cuttings and serves as an excellent backdrop for more spectacular plants such as geraniums or pot chrysanthemums. Plant some next to your grill and sprinkle a sprig of the herb, plucked directly from the plant, over some lamb chops while they cook.
Pests and Problems
The winter kills off sweet marjoram (O. marjorana) because it cannot tolerate the strong freeze.
Harvesting and Storing
The leaves are where you’ll find the taste and scent. These may be plucked off the plant at its peak of freshness and utilized at any time. The youthful top shots provide a special allure for the viewer. The leaves have a high capacity for drying. Take them immediately before the plant blossoms, when the volatile oil content will be at its highest, if at all possible. You should prune the plant such that little more than half of the stem is left to continue growing. The shoots should be spread out to dry on a piece of screen in a room that is warm and has good ventilation. You may also use raffia to knot them up in little bunches and suspend them from the ceiling. After a week, they will no longer be wet but should still have a green appearance. Some folks like to keep the whole sprig in their medicine cabinet and, when necessary, just crush the leaves. When oregano is dried, its flavor and scent become much more potent.