The aromatic perennial herb oregano, also known as origanum or wild marjoram, belongs to the Lamiaceae family of mints and is prized for its flavorful dried leaves and blooming tops. Oregano naturally occurs in several areas of Mexico and the United States. It comes originally from the hills of the Mediterranean region and western Asia. The herb is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and is frequently used to season a variety of cuisines.
Oregano scientific name
Oregano comes from the Greek words “oros” and “ganos,” which means mountain and joy. In simpler terms, the Greeks have long referred to it as the “joy of the mountain,” as it originates from their hilly countryside. And over the years, it has slowly paved its way around town and claimed its rightful position as part of almost every household’s kitchen and medicinal cabinets.
Thanks to its camphoraceous aroma and distinct taste, it has easily become one of the most popular and widely-used mints across the globe. It has long been used to add spice to different recipes and to treat specific ailments. It is native to temperate regions and a highlight of most Mediterranean dishes.
Its scientific name is, Origanum vulgare.
The oregano is a bushy, rhizomatous, woody-branched perennial that typically reaches heights of 1-3 feet and widths of up to 2 feet. Summertime sees the blooming of axillary or terminal corymb-like spikelets that rise above the foliage. Each with a pair of tiny, two-lipped, pinkish-purple or white flowers (characteristic of the mint family), each with four projecting stamens.
Native to Europe and Central Asia, the plants have naturalized in some areas of the eastern and far western United States and Canada after escaping gardens.
Oregano leaves are typically round, dark green, and arranged in pairs across the stems.
The herb, most specifically its dried leaves, is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and is frequently used to season a variety of cuisines.
Oregano is also used for medicinal purposes.
For sure, it won’t be coined by the Greeks as “joy of the mountain” for no reason. Let us discuss at least a few promising benefits it offers to support such a claim.
Some of the most common culinary uses of oregano include tomato-based and olive oil-based dishes. Moreover, it’s often present in your favorite Italian vinaigrette, pizza, spaghetti sauce, and even chili. It is also an excellent spice for lamb, chicken, and beef marinades. Ultimately, it is a great garnish to add for plating—but in moderation, of course, to avoid coming out too overpowering.
Key takeaway: It’s best paired with olive oil or tomato!
What does oregano taste like?
Oregano has this savory flavor that the culinary world can’t resist. It has a distinct balance of being earthy and bitter simultaneously, making it an easy showstopper for just about any dish.
Unlike most herbs, oregano is more pungent when fresh than dried. With this, it is often produced in dried or powdered packs to give users more control.
Oregano for cough
In addition to its benefits in cooking, it’s also viewed as an excellent healing agent for many reasons.
This popular herb is packed with multiple helpful properties:
- vitamins (A, C, and K)
- minerals (calcium, iron, and manganese)
- dietary fiber
- antioxidants (which helps prevent cell damage), and
- further anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial compositions.
Extracted oil from the oregano plant may be a remedy for health concerns like nausea, cough, colds, sore throat, cold sores, nausea, and indigestion, among many others. You may apply this topically or through aromatherapy.
Note: Make sure to store in a clean and dry place, dilute with a carrier oil when necessary, and consult your doctor for optimal results.
The flavor of oregano is spicy and marginally bitter. This results in a tea with a distinct flavor. However, most individuals do it for its potential health advantages rather than drinking oregano tea for its taste.
Oregano tea has traditionally been used to treat some health conditions, such as:
- sore throat
- digestive problems
- irritable bowel syndrome
How to make oregano tea
Fresh oregano and water are the only two ingredients needed to make oregano tea. Summertime is the ideal time to make this recipe when fresh herbs flourish in your garden or pots. Nevertheless, you may still prepare it in the winter with fresh oregano from the supermarket. Here’s how you can make oregano tea:
- Boil: Boil 1-1/2 cups of water in a pot. You can use an electric kettle (the one you could also use for your morning coffee).
- Harvest herbs: Place fresh oregano sprigs in a mug; two would do but if you want a stronger taste, feel free to add more.
- Steep: Pour the boiling water into a mug. 5 minutes standing time, then take pleasure in
- Optional: Add a slice of lemon or orange and honey to add more flavor.
Oregano tea benefits
Although oregano tea has a long history and many reported health advantages, there aren’t many human studies to support such benefits. Instead of using oregano tea, most research to date has used laboratory samples (rather than human subjects) and oregano extracts.
These laboratory studies do, however, imply that oregano has some significant health advantages. Flavonoids and phenolic acids are two substances that are associated with several of these advantages.
How to grow and propagate oregano with container gardening?
With all its benefits laid out, we’re pretty sure you’re as pumped about getting your hands on it ASAP as most people. Forget about depending so much on your local markets, and why don’t you grow your supply at home? This way, you get to ensure they’re fresh and healthy.
Propagate in three methods:
- Seeds. You can begin by softly pattering the seeds on a pot and then covering them with a thin layer of soil after.
- Cuttings. You can also opt to take stem cuttings (about 7 to 10 inches long) from a healthy plant. After cutting them using a sterilized knife, remove the leaves from their lower half, and then place the cuttings in water afterward.
- Division. You can also try carefully splitting its roots and planting them in different pots.
- Pot. The size of your container depends on the variety of oregano you choose to plant. Generally, a wide and 8 to 10 inches-deep pot should be alright. Also, repot every three years to avoid woodiness.
- Soil. Use potting soil instead of garden soil. Potting soils ensure moisture, nutrients, and air, unlike the latter, which is too heavy and highly compacted.
- Temperature and light. It’s best when planted in temperate climates and positioned in areas that receive full sun. Although, you can still grow it in warmer climates, provided it won’t be overexposed to the sun’s heat. It would be best to provide them with shades in cases like this, especially during summer.
- Water. Water only when necessary. Avoid getting the soil too damped.
- Fertilizers. Fertilizers are great but remember that too many fertilizers can reduce scent and flavor.
- Maintenance. Harvest once it grows 4 to 6 inches tall. Prune and regularly trim to encourage more productivity.
When is the best time to propagate oregano?
Propagating can be done at any time of the year. However, for best results, it would be best to do so when its stems are still soft, preferably during spring and early summer.
Where to buy oregano?
Choosing where you source your seeds or plants is a crucial consideration. You must get them from trusted nurseries to ensure your plants’ health, safety, and productivity.
It is also best to buy plants locally, knowing they have better chances to survive and grow.