Friday, 20 January 2017


“Ounce for ounce, herbs and spices have more antioxidants than any other food group.” - Michael Greger

Marjoram (Origanum majorana, syn. Majorana hortensis Moench, Majorana majorana (L.) H. Karst) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum. It is also called pot marjoram, although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum. Marjoram has a sweeter, more aromatic aroma than oregano, which tends to be more pungent and robust.

The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major), its ultimate etymology being unknown. In Modern Greek, the herb is called μαντζουράνα (majurana), derived from the Venetian mazorana in turn derived from the Latin λατινική amaracus and the ancient Greek ἀμάρακος (amarakos). Marjoram is indigenous to Cyprus and southern Turkey, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.

Leaves are smooth, simple, petiolated, ovate to oblong-ovate, 0.5–1.5 cm long, 0.2–0.8 cm wide, with obtuse apex, entire margin, symmetrical but tapering base, and reticulate venation. The texture is extremely smooth due to the presence of numerous hairs. The tiny white, pink, or purple flowers are knotlike and shaped before blooming in spherical clusters on spikes or corymbs. The seed is a tiny light brown nutlet. Considered a tender perennial (USDA Zones 7-9), marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5.

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as herbes de Provence and za’atar. The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam-distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, and pinene.

Cretan oregano (Origanum onites) has similar uses to marjoram. Hardy marjoram or French marjoram, a cross of marjoram with oregano, is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet. Origanum pulchellum is known as showy marjoram or showy oregano.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of non-flowering marjoram signifies “comfort and consolation”, if the sprig is in flower, the message is: “I wish you happiness and joy”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous macro shot. One of my favourite cooking herbs.