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Origanum majorana - L.

Common Name Sweet Marjoram
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry slopes and rocky places, occasionally in partial shade, to 1500 metres in Turkey[93].
Range N. Africa to Turkey.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Origanum majorana Sweet Marjoram

Origanum majorana Sweet Marjoram


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Origanum majorana is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


O. majoranoides. Majorana hortensis.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 52]. Sweet marjoram is widely used as a flavouring for salad dressings, vegetables, legumes and oils[7, 14, 27, 61, 171, 238]. It has a more delicate flavour than the closely related oregano (Origanum vulgare), and is best when used fresh and only added towards the end of cooking[238]. The aromatic seeds are used as a flavouring in sweets, drinks etc[183]. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[21, 183]. The flavour resembles a blend of thyme, rosemary and sage[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antidepressant  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Aromatherapy  Carminative  Cholagogue  Diaphoretic  Disinfectant  
Emmenagogue  Expectorant  Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic

Sweet marjoram is mainly used as a culinary herb, but is also medicinally valuable due to its stimulant and antispasmodic properties[254]. It is a good general tonic, treating various disorders of the digestive and respiratory systems. It has a stronger affect on the nervous system than the related oregano (O. vulgare) and is also thought to lower the sex drive[254]. Because it can promote menstruation, it should not be used medicinally by pregnant women though small quantities used for culinary purposes are safe[254]. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and mildly tonic[4, 7, 21, 240]. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchial complaints, tension headaches, insomnia, anxiety, minor digestive upsets and painful menstruation[238]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, it is used to treat muscular pain, bronchial complaints, arthritis, sprains and stiff joints[238]. The plant is harvested as flowering begins and can be used fresh or dried. Marjoram is often used medicinally in the form of the essential oil, about 400 grams being obtained from 70 kilos of the fresh herb[4]. The oil is used as an external application for sprains, bruises etc[4, 240]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Muscle relaxant'[210].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Disinfectant  Dye  Essential

The leaves and flowers yield 0.3 - 0.4% essential oil by steam distillation[240]. Called 'Oil of Sweet Marjoram', it is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery, soaps, hair products etc[57, 61, 171, 238]. The plant is often used to disinfect bee hives[7].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil, but is not fussy as to soil type[18], thriving on chalk[1, 37]. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions[200]. Sweet marjoram is often cultivated as a culinary herb, there are some named varieties[46, 183]. Plants do not normally survive the winter outdoors in Britain so they are usually grown as an annual[1, 4, 14, 37]. Another report says that it is possible to overwinter plants in areas with cold winters so long as you apply a thick mulch to the roots[200]. Container growing is preferred in areas with cold, wet winters or humid, wet summers. Plants do not often set seed in Britain[K]. A good companion plant, improving the flavour of nearby plants[14, 18, 20]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[108]. The bruised leaves emit a fragrance somewhat resembling thyme, but somewhat sweeter with balsamic undertones[245]. This is a sacred plant in India[171]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - sow early spring at 10 - 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 4 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in April or early May and, although it can be slow to germinate, usually does well[4]. Division in March or October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in June. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Origanum compactum Perennial0.3 -  LMHNDM10 
Origanum dictamnusDittany Of Crete, Hop MarjoramPerennial0.2 7-9 MLMHNDM21 
Origanum glandulosum Perennial0.0 -  LMHNDM10 
Origanum isthmicum Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNDM10 
Origanum onitesPot MarjoramPerennial0.3 7-10  LMHSNDM312
Origanum syriacumBible HyssopPerennial1.0 7-10  LMHSNDM200
Origanum virens Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNDM10 
Origanum vulgareOregano, Pot MarjoramPerennial0.6 4-10 MLMHSNDM435
Origanum vulgare hirtumGreek OreganoPerennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNDM433
Origanum x hybridum Perennial0.3 7-10  LMHSNDM10 
Origanum x majoricumHardy MarjoramPerennial0.6 6-9  LMHSNDM223

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Arijit Banerjee   Tue Aug 17 10:37:42 2004

Perhaps this plant is called Marua in Rajasthan (India). Can it be confused with Ocimum basilicum (any of its varieties)?

Naveen sharma   Wed Jun 18 2008

Dear sir , I want to know about this plant that it is different to ocimum spp. and can i say this plant Marua in india .if you have detail then send me all details bcoz sir my research work is going on on this plant and i want to know much more literature on this plant. Thanks Naveen Sharma Researchist

reem   Sun Mar 22 2009

origanum vulgare are same of origanum majorana can u pl.explan

sadia   Wed Aug 12 2009

where can we find this plant in india???plz tell.its quite important

fatima ejaz   Sun Oct 4 2009

please tell me the name of plants that grow in loam soil. piease, please, plzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

   Oct 30 2011 12:00AM

This herb thrives in many Israeli gardens, yet it is seldom used in the local cuisine, which tends to prefer Origanum syriacum/ Majorana syriaca, the biblical Ezov a.k.a. Za'athar. Sweet Majoram is an excellent flavoring for chicken, especially if combined with Rosemary, Thyme, and Bay Leaves. Sometimes, the early Summer harvest is so abundant that we use it, not quite dried, as a source of fragrant smoke for barbecues.

   Oct 30 2011 12:00AM

This herb thrives in many Israeli gardens, yet it is seldom used in the local cuisine, which tends to prefer Origanum syriacum/ Majorana syriaca, the biblical Ezov a.k.a. Za'athar. Sweet Majoram is an excellent flavoring for chicken, especially if combined with Rosemary, Thyme, and Bay Leaves. Sometimes, the early Summer harvest is so abundant that we use it, not quite dried, as a source of fragrant smoke for barbecues.

   Mar 10 2017 12:00AM

there is a contradiction in this description. The hardiness is declared as 4* (-15C), and then also as zone (UK) 7, which is perhaps about the same, yet in Cultivation Details it is written that "Plants do not normally survive the winter outdoors in Britain so they are usually grown as an annual[1, 4, 14, 37]." The latter is likely correct, and probably this plant should be listed as 3* or even 2*. Given the descriptions I think Origanum x majoricum Hardy Marjoram would be correctly placed as 3* (-5C), instead of the listed 4*. Thanks for all the good work!!

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