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Flowering oregano
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Origanum
Species: O. vulgare
Binomial name
Origanum vulgare

Oregano or Pot Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) is a species of Origanum, native to

Europe, the Mediterranean region and southern and central Asia. It is a perennial herb,
growing to 20-80 cm tall, with opposite leaves 1-4 cm long. The flowers are purple, 3-4
mm long, produced in erect spikes. Its name derives from the Greek origanon : oros
“mountain” + the verb ganousthai “delight in”.
Cultivation and uses

Oregano growing in a field.

The subspecies of oregano Origanum vulgare hirtum is an important culinary herb. It is

particularly widely used in Greek and Italian cuisines. It is the leaves that are used in
cooking, and the dried herb is often more flavourful than the fresh.[citation needed]

Oregano is often used in tomato sauces, fried vegetables and grilled meat. Together with
basil, it contributes much to the distinctive character of many Italian dishes.

Oregano combines nicely with pickled olives, capers and lovage leaves. Unlike most
Italian herbs,[citation needed] oregano works with hot and spicy food, which is popular in
southern Italy.

Oregano is an indispensable ingredient for Greek cuisine. Oregano adds flavour to the
Greek salad and is usually used separately or added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that
accompanies almost every fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles.
Oregano growing in a pot.

It has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste. It varies in intensity; good quality is so
strong that it almost numbs the tongue, but the cultivars adapted to colder climates have
often unsatisfactory flavour. The influence of climate, season and soil on the composition
of the essential oil is greater than the difference between the various species.

The related species Origanum onites (Greece, Asia Minor) and O. heracleoticum (Italy,
Balkan peninsula, West Asia) have similar flavours. A closely related plant is marjoram
from Asia Minor, which, however, differs significantly in taste, because phenolic
compounds are missing in its essential oil. Some breeds show a flavour intermediate
between oregano and marjoram.


The dish most associated with oregano is pizza. Its relatives have probably been eaten in
Southern Italy for centuries.

Health benefits

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and
flavonoids . Additionally, oregano has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against food-
borne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes . Both of these characteristics may be
useful in both health and food preservation. In the Philippines, oregano (coleus
aromaticus) is not commonly used for cooking but is rather considered as a primarily
medicinal plant, useful for relieving children's coughs.