|Origanum subsp. var.|
Origanum is a genus of about 20 species of aromatic herbs in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region east to eastern Asia. The genus includes some important culinary herbs, including Marjoram and Oregano.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Origanum (ancient Greek name said to mean delight of mountains). Labiatae. Marjoram. Sweet herbs; and a few species grown in rock-gardens and borders for the ornamental foliage and flowers.
Perennial herbs or undershrubs, with fls. in 2-fld. whorls, rarely 6-10-fld., crowded into globose or oblong spikelets which are disposed in terminal corymbs or panicles: bracts colored and larger than the calyx, or green and smaller; calyx various, 5-toothcd or 2-hpped; corolla 2-lipped, the upper or posterior lip 2-lobed or emarginate, the lower 3-lobed; stamens 4, included or exserted; style 2-lobed: nutlets ovoid or oblong, smooth. —About 30 species, largely in the Medit. region, but also in extra-Trop. Asia. Botanically these plants are closely allied to the thyme, but the fls. of marjoram are borne in bracted heads, while those of thyme are borne in few-fld. whorls which are axillary or spicate above. By some authors, the genus is divided into Origanum, with 5-toothed and more or less 13-nervcd calyx, and Majorana with oblique calyx-mouth, the upper lip entire and the lower one small or wanting.
The sweet marjoram is O. Majorana (or Majorana hortensis), not uncommon in gardens. The pot marjoram appears to be very little known in this country. It is commonly referred to O. vulgare. although sometimes to O. Onites. The former is probably the species concerned, although it is not impossible that both species are confused in this horticultural name, pot marjoram.
Cultivation.—Sweet or annual marjoram (Origanum Majorana) is a native of the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. It is an erect branching perennial, bearing grayish green rounded or oval leaves, small whitish flowers in terminal clusters which appear in midsummer, and little oval dark brown seeds. The plant has a pleasing odor and warm aromatic bitterish taste, due to a volatile oil which is soluble in water, is officinally credited with tonic and gently excitant properties, and, as an infusion, is employed in domestic medicine to "bring out the rash" in such diseases as measles. More frequently than in medicine, however, its green parts are used as a condiment, being highly esteemed as a seasoning for soups, stews, meat pies and dressings. In the garden this plant is treated as an annual, hence the name "annual marjoram." This practice became necessary since the plants are prone to winter-kill unless carefully protected. Its propagation is also somewhat precarious, owing to the small size of the seeds and the tenderness of the seedlings when exposed to the sun. Shade, therefore, until the plants are well rooted is usually necessary. Successional plantings may be made throughout the spring; sometimes transplanting from hotbeds or coldframes in May or June is practised. The plants should stand 6 inches asunder in rows 12 inches apart, in light and dry but good soil, be kept clean throughout the season, and harvested for winter use just before flowering, the plant being cut close to the ground and hung in a cool, airy place to dry. If planted early, leaves may be gathered in late spring. According to Dreer, American grown seed is better than imported seed for winter use, as it makes more bulk, while imported seed is better when the plants are to be cut green for summer use.— Pot marjoram (Origanum vulgare), a branching hardy perennial, about 2 feet tall, bearing in midsummer pink or purple flowers, and small brown oval seeds, grows wild on the borders of European woods. The highly aromatic leaves and the young shoots gathered just before blossoming are used like those of sweet marjoram. The plant is of easy culture, succeeding in all warm garden soils. It may be propagated by seed, but, where established, division in spring or early autumn is generally practised. The plants should be set 10 inches asunder in rows 15 inches apart, and kept well cultivated. Dwarf pot marjoram, a variety that comes true from seed, bears large heads of whitish flowers, and is often used as an edging plant.
O. Dictamnus, Linn., from Crete (Crete Dittany), is a tender species with entire woolly mottled Lvs. and purplish or pink fls. in hop-like heads.
Pests and diseases
About 20 species, including:
Origanum dictamnus (Dittany of Crete; Hop Marjoram)
Origanum majorana ((Sweet) Marjoram)
Origanum (x)majoricum (Italian Oregano; Hardy Sweet Marjoram)
Origanum onites (Rigani; Pot Marjoram)
Origanum syriacum (Syrian Oregano; Za'atar)
Origanum vulgare (Oregano)
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963