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Origanum vulgare - L.

Common Name Oregano, Pot Marjoram
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry grassy areas and scrub, usually on calcareous soils[9, 17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to north and west Asia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Origanum vulgare Oregano, Pot Marjoram

Origanum vulgare Oregano, Pot Marjoram


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Bloom Color: Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Late Spring, Early Summer, Late summer, Midsummer. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Origanum vulgare is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor 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. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Meadow; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Stem
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[5, 52, 183]. Oregano is an important flavouring herb in Mediterranean cookery, and is often used dried rather than fresh[238]. The leaves are used as a flavouring for salad dressings, vegetables and legumes, and are frequently included in strongly flavoured dishes with chillies, garlic, onions etc[2, 13, 21, 27, 183, 238]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Flowers, usually appear in late spring, are edible. Much of the commercially available dried oregano does not come from this plant but from a number of different, often unrelated plants[238]. These include Lippia graveolens, L. palmeri and Origanum syriacum[238]. A herb tea is made from the dried leaves and flowering stems[183, 207, 238].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 306 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 7.2%
  • Protein: 11g; Fat: 10.2g; Carbohydrate: 64.4g; Fibre: 15g; Ash: 7.2g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1576mg; Phosphorus: 200mg; Iron: 44mg; Magnesium: 270mg; Sodium: 15mg; Potassium: 1669mg; Zinc: 4.4mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 6903mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.34mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 6.2mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Aromatherapy  Carminative  Cholagogue  Diaphoretic  Emmenagogue  
Expectorant  Odontalgic  Parasiticide  Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic

Oregano has been used as a culinary and medicinal herb for thousands of years. It has a beneficial effect upon the digestive and respiratory systems and is also used to promote menstruation[254]. It should not be used medicinally by pregnant women though it is perfectly safe in small amounts for culinary purposes[254]. The leaves and flowering stems are strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and mildly tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 254]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, mild feverish illnesses, indigestion, stomach upsets and painful menstruation[238]. It is strongly sedative and should not be taken in large doses, though mild teas have a soothing effect and aid restful sleep[244]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, oregano is used to treat bronchitis, asthma, arthritis and muscular pain[238]. The plant can be used fresh or dried - harvest the whole plant (but not the roots) in late summer to dry and store for winter use[244]. Oregano is often used in the form of an essential oil that is distilled from the flowering plant[4]. A few drops of the essential oil, put on cotton wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth, frequently relieves the pain of toothache[4, 207]. This plant is one of the best natural antiseptics because of its high thymol content[7]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to treat the same kinds of complaints that the herb is used for[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential  Parasiticide  Repellent  Strewing

An essential oil from the plant is used as a food flavouring, in soaps and perfumery[115, 171]. The herb contains 0.15 - 0.4% essential oil[218] and makes good herbal pillows and baths[244]. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[201]. The essential oil has also been used to kill lice, though some caution is advised since it can cause skin irritations[238]. A red or purple dye is obtained from the flowering tops[4, 7, 13, 100], it is neither brilliant nor durable[115]. The plant repels ants[46]. The growing plant repels many insect pests so it is a good plant to grow in the vegetable area[201]. A useful ground cover for sunny positions, forming a slowly spreading clump[197, K]. Plants should be spaced about 30cm apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Ground cover, Rock garden, Seashore. Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil in full sun, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk[1, 27]. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions[200]. Tolerates poor soils[24]. Dislikes wet soils[37]. Hardy to about -20°c[187]. Oregano has a long history of culinary and medicinal use and is often cultivated in modern gardens as a culinary herb, there are some named varieties[183, 187, 238, 244]. Plants growing near the sea have the most fragrance[7]. A good companion plant, improving the flavour of nearby plants[201]. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[5, 30]. A good companion for the cucumber family[14], it is beneficial to all nearby plants[20]. The whole plant has a sweet yet slightly peppery aroma[245]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers. 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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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow early spring at 10 - 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 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 late spring. 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

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Anhui Sheng, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Ciscaucasia, Cyprus, Dagestan, Eastern Siberia, Fujian Sheng, Gansu Sheng, Georgia, Guangdong Sheng, Guizhou Sheng, Henan Sheng, Hubei Sheng, Hunan Sheng, Iran, Iraq, Jiangsu Sheng, Jiangxi Sheng, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Russian Federation-Ciscaucasia, Russian Federation-Eastern Siberia, Russian Federation-Western Siberia, Shaanxi Sheng, Sichuan Sheng, Taiwan, Turkey, Western Siberia, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, Yunnan Sheng, Zhejiang Sheng,Afghanistan. TROPICAL ASIA: Bhutan, India, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, Pakistan, EUROPE: Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom (U.K.), Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia), Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation-European part, European part (south), Estonia, Ukraine (incl. Krym), Former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece (incl. Crete), Italy (incl. Sardinia, Sicily), Romania, Spain (incl. Baleares), France (incl. Corsica), Portugal, AFRICA: Spain, Canarias, Portugal, Madeira Islands, Algeria (north), Morocco, Tunisia.

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 majoranaSweet MarjoramPerennial0.6 6-9  LMHSNDM333
Origanum onitesPot MarjoramPerennial0.3 7-10  LMHSNDM312
Origanum syriacumBible HyssopPerennial1.0 7-10  LMHSNDM200
Origanum virens Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNDM10 
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


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Readers comment

peng   Sun Dec 11 2005

Dear friend Our company manage lime blossom for many years,now we have it 12 tons,and also have wild oregano(120 tons) and ginkgo leaf(30 tons),pulp of dogwood fruit(10 tons) if you company need ,please contact us . Email:[email protected] Fax:0086-0396-7552006 Best regards Peng.Y


joan   Tue Mar 7 2006

FRiend, we have lots of oregano in our backyard and I really love them so much! Thank you for the additional informations that you gave to me!God bless you always

elle   Fri Aug 29 2008

If you're getting this plant for the wildlife value don't get 'Aureum' as it doesn't attract many flying insects in my experience. The ordinary kind by comparison is a bee and butterfly magnet and has a long flowering season.

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