Oregano is a spice and medicinal plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. It is also known as wild marjoram or sweet thistle and has an aromatic, tangy flavour. It was once brought to Europe via the Mediterranean. Its name comes from the Greek and can be translated as “ornament of the mountains” (Oros = mountain, Ganos = ornament, splendour).
In Southern Europe, it is widespread in various species with many forms. It has been cultivated as a spice in Mediterranean cuisine and has been firmly anchored there with its fame since the 17th to 18th centuries.
Oregano grows as a bushy herb up to 65 centimetres high. The plant has a decoratively branched rhizome with reddish-brown stems and small egg-shaped leaves with entire margins and only slight notches. As a perennial plant, oregano forms strong runners. A special feature is the highly visible veining on the underside of the leaves.
Its intense scent is due to the essential oils in the leaves, which also act as an antiperspirant.
Oregano blooms from July to September in countless small, white to light pink lipped flowers, whose bell-shaped calyxes are arranged in tight inflorescences.
Oregano’s flavouring power is at its most intense during flowering. This is the ideal time to harvest it.
Oregano is a particularly insect-friendly spice. Its flowers offer nectar with up to 76% sugar.
Oregano is found especially in Europe in gardens and fields. It also grows wild in dry meadows and on the edges of bushes and woods. It feels at home in a warm, sunny place with dry, nutrient-poor soil.