Some similarities to : Large Thyme, but Large Thyme grows only to half the 50cm height typical of Marjoram.
Distinguishing Feature : The strong oregano smell of the leaves when rolled between the fingers.
Unlike most of the Dead-Nettle/Mint Family, Marjoram does not have square stems but round.
The leaves of Marjoram (or oregano) are used as herbs in cooking, especially Italian cooking such as spaghetti bolognese, pizza and tomato dishes. They have a strong aromatic odour. The dark purplish bracts of the flowers yield a reddish dye.
The essential oil derived from Marjoram is a powerful antiseptic, and is used in room fresheners and fragrant aerosol sprays.
Estragole is a slightly toxic isomer of Anethole (found in Sweet Cicely and Aniseed), only the position of the double-bond has changed. Estragole is present in only a few hundred ppm quantities in the plant. It is present in much greater concentrations (up to 75%) in the essential oils of Basil and Tarragon. Estragole is used in perfumes and flavourings, but its further use is being re-appraised; it is suspected of being both carcinogenic and genotoxic; t has been shown that Estragole can give animals tumours.
Marjoram also contains Camphor present at 2% concentration in the essential oils of Marjoram.
Marjoram is a strongly aromatic perennial to half a metre in height, possibly to be included in shrubs or undershrubs. Habitat is dry grassland usually on lime. Many cultivars of Wild Marjoram are grown as herbs in gardens.
Note that the Genus name Origano has a different spelling to the common name Oregano
There is also another herb with a similar name,
Pot Marjoram (Origanum onites) which is a rare casual in the UK and is originally from North |Africa and South West Asia. The only visual difference between Wild Marjoram and
Pot Marjoram is that the flower is split almost the way down on one side and thus it consists of just a single lip.