Oregano - Origanum vulgare

The oregano

Oregano is a perennial aromatic plant that develops in a bushy way, draws its original from Europe and Western Asia, grows spontaneously in sunny and arid areas up to an altitude of two thousand meters. In Italy it is widespread in meadows, woods, etc. In other countries it is not widely used, except in Mexico and America where the Mexican one is mostly used, very similar to Origanum Vulgare used above all to give flavor to chili, paprika, garlic, etc.

Oregano is widely used in the preparation of dishes in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Calabria, Sicily, Abruzzo, Molise and in the areas of Naples, it is used to flavor caprese, pizza, fish and meat. The stems of the oregano plant can reach a height of eighty centimeters, have an erect bearing, not very branched, red in color and, some species, have light hair. The leaves are elongated oval in shape similar to a spear and can have a smooth or serrated outline. The flowers are very small, gather in panicles and have a pinkish-white color with red-purple bracts, have the characteristic of being hermaphroditic and pollination occurs thanks to insects, especially bees and butterflies; their flowering period is from July to October while the seeds ripen from August to October. It produces four dry fruits that do not open spontaneously, smooth and dark in color, which are enclosed in a glass that persists for several years.

Oregano is part of the Lamiaceae and contains many species, the two main ones being the Origanum Vulgare and the Origanum Majorana. In addition to being widely used in the kitchen for its pleasant and appetizing aroma, oregano also has many properties which we will talk about in the following paragraphs. Oregano is often mistaken for marjoram because it is very similar, but has a very different taste and aroma. The oregano plant retains its characteristic scent even after drying. In ancient times, oregano was already widely used, especially for therapeutic purposes.


The oregano plant has numerous species, below we will talk about some of them:

Origanum Vulgare: this species is the common oregano, the one we use to cook to flavor and flavor our dishes, but also for therapeutic purposes. There are many varieties of Origanum Vulgare, including: Aureum whose leaves are used in cooking and Hirtum, which has hairy leaves and white flowers, is very present in Italy and in the Balkan countries.

Origanum Onites: this species is more widespread in Greece, Turkey and Asia, has a more bitter taste than the Vulgar one but has similar therapeutic properties.

Origanum Compactum: it is a species used only for its perfume. It does not develop much in height.

Origanum Dictamnus: has the characteristic of having a more delicate taste than the Vulgare, it is used to flavor liqueurs and flavor salads. With the flowers you can prepare a pleasant tea.

Origanum Syriacum: in Italy it is not widely used, the flavor is a mixture of thyme, marjoram and, indeed, oregano. It is not used to treat any ailments. Other species are Origanum Acutidens, Akhdarense, Amanum, Bargyli, Bilgeri, Boissieri, Brevidens, Calcaratum, Cardifolium, Dayi, Glandulosum, Isthmicum, Virens etc.

There is also a type of wild oregano, very fragrant and with an intense aroma, this variety is present only and exclusively in the regions of Sicily and Calabria. It is harvested when in bloom and dried; it is also used to flavor and flavor various dishes, salads, sauces, cheeses, etc., and can also be used as an herbal tea or liqueur to aid digestion.

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Soil and Cultivation Techniques

Oregano adapts well to various types of soil but the most suitable is certainly calcareous, permeable, dry and rich in organic matter, it absolutely does not like soils with high humidity subject to water stagnation. Oregano needs sun and heat and an airy area, grown in the shade its qualities diminish. As mentioned above, oregano does not like too compact soils, so before sowing the soil must always be worked in order to eliminate the dry surface part; to combat the formation of weeds, much feared by the oregano plant, it is necessary to proceed with the two operations of weeding and weeding or weeding.


There are three methods for proceeding with the multiplication of oregano: by seed, by cutting or by division of the plant.

Even if we have already said it several times, we reiterate that the disadvantage of multiplication by seed is that of the uncertainty of having new seedlings equal to the mother, so if you aim at this result you will need to proceed with the multiplication by cutting or division of the plant .

If you proceed with sowing in seedbeds or pots, this will be done at the beginning of the spring period and the seeds will be placed in a soil with organic matter and sand that favors the drainage of water and buried gently; after this initial operation, the container will be covered with a plastic sheet and placed in a shaded area with a temperature of about ten to twelve degrees, a correct and constant humidity of the soil must be maintained. The first sprouts have appeared, remove the plastic and place the container in a brighter place and, when the new babies have reached a height of about six centimeters, they will be ready to be transplanted.

In the case of sowing in the open field or in the garden, as mentioned above, the soil must first be worked and manure added to the bottom. This operation must be done in spring, the seeds will be placed at a distance of about forty centimeters, so that there are about six to eight seedlings per square meter.

If you opt for the multiplication by cuttings, it will be done in the month of June. Cuttings about ten centimeters long must be taken from the mother plant which will be placed in a compound of peat and sand at a temperature of about ten, when rooting can be transplanted.

The ideal period for the multiplication by division of the plant is from March to October and will be transplanted in spring-summer.

Fertilization and Irrigation

As regards oregano, fertilization should take place based on the duration of a plant, this time can vary from three to ten years; the average contribution could be quantified in three hundred quintals of manure per hectare administered at the time of soil preparation. However, oregano is a rustic type plant and does not need specific fertilizations. The important thing after each mowing operation, at the vegetative restart, is to add nitrogen to promote the development of new life. In spring, add phosphorus and potassium.

As we pointed out earlier, oregano does not like water stagnation, so it should be watered with little water but often, in order to avoid these stagnations which are harmful to this plant and its roots.

Pruning and Harvesting

Oregano pruning consists in eliminating the weak or dry parts to prevent them from being infested with diseases and parasites.

During the first year of life of the plant, one harvest will be carried out, while in the second year two will be carried out, one in July and one in September. The flowering branches are collected and dried in a dry and dark place immediately after harvesting, otherwise they lose some of their properties. Once dried, they can be kept in glass jars.


In addition to having aromatic properties, oregano also has medicinal properties, both are provided by essential oils: it is antiseptic, vermifuge, antispasmodic, analgesic, digestive, analgesic, tonic, expectorant, calming in case of tower and intestinal problems like aerophagia.

The parts of the oregano plant used are the leaves and flowering tops harvested in July-September. The main uses of the parts of oregano can be: through aerosols to promote breathing. For stiff neck problems it could be very useful to apply flower tops previously heated in a pot; always with the flowered tops you can prepare a sweet, aperitif and digestive drink, putting about fifty grams of it in a liter of wine for about ten days. Spread over dishes, it can help digestion. An infusion of oregano is useful for fighting cellulite blemishes or through gargling to soothe an inflamed throat.

As for cosmetic use, oregano is used during the bath to purify and deodorize; essential oil is often used to create perfumes.

In ancient times, in times of great epidemics, thanks to its intense and penetrating aroma, it was used as a disinfectant for burnt environments with thyme and mint.

It can also be used to get rid of annoying ants.

Diseases and Parasites

The main enemies of this plant are leafhoppers and the black aphid. Leafhoppers are small insects that mainly attack the underside of leaves, creating colonies. Through their bites they create yellow crusts on the plant, the leaves darken and dry out. The most massive attacks occur in the hot and dry season, in the months from June to September.

The black aphid is a louse that attacks the plant and sucks the sugary substances of the plant through the sting, leading to the deformation of the leaves and the consequent deterioration of the whole plant; through these stings the aphid can also transmit viruses that are very harmful to the health of the plant.

Herbal Guide to Oregano: How to Grow & Harvest Origanum vulgare

Growing oregano gives you access to an herb there are countless uses for. This herb is easy to grow and offers a bounty of health benefits that every gardener can take advantage of. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow and use oregano!

Oregano is a well-known culinary herb used in Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Mexican cooking. It has a rich, warming flavor, but can have a bitter taste, especially when used fresh.

It's both easy and attractive to grow in the garden, and it has wonderful medicinal properties as well. This guide will cover growing oregano, the history and health benefits of it, how to harvest it, and how to use oregano in recipes.

Oregano is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East but is widely distributed in Asia, Europe, northern Africa, and the former Soviet Union. 1 Historically, the herb was used widely in ancient Greece, and this endemic plant is still popular in herbalism there to this day. 1,5 This herb grows plentifully in limestone-rich soil with large amounts of calcium carbonate. 5 The roots can be divided into the fall for propagation or the seeds can be sown in early spring in dry, mild weather. 5

The botanical name of Origanum comes from the Greek oros and ganos, meaning mountain and joy the feeling it would give to see the plant growing on the mountainside. 5 The multiple flowers bloom throughout the summer. 5

Oregano is also used extensively as an essential oil in the aromatherapy industry. 1 The flowering tops have traditionally been used as a dye purple on wool and reddish-brown on linen. 5

This plant is heavily used in the food industry as one of the most prevalent culinary herbs. 3,5 It is often confused with another culinary herb, marjoram (Origanum majorana), as they are related and very similar in appearance. 1 Before hops were introduced in beer making, Oregano was a sought-after ingredient because of its preservation abilities and aromatics. 5

Other “Oregano” Plant Varieties

Mexican oregano or Puerto Rican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is a perennial shrub native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It is a member of the verbena family and has a bold flavor reminiscent of a stronger version of Greek oregano.

Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus), also known as Spanish thyme, is a member of the mint family. It is used in Caribbean, African and Indian cuisine.

Poliomintha longiflora, also in the mint family, is known as Mexican bush oregano, Mexican sage, or rosemary mint. It is a very aromatic edible plant with tube-shaped purple flowers.

The Mediterranean diet has long been known to provide a variety of health benefits such as cardiovascular protection, cancer prevention, and lowering gastrointestinal inflammation. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an herb prominent in the Mediterranean diet, and has been shown to possess several bioactive properties including anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. The anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties of oregano also make it a strong candidate as a natural food preservative. Because of the recent public concern with synthetic food preservatives, natural alternatives are increasingly being evaluated for effective food preservation. Oregano extract (OE) and essential oil (OEO) are two such agents that have shown promise as natural food preservatives. Additionally, oregano is being evaluated for its positive effect on gastrointestinal health, suggesting an additional benefit of food preservation with oregano. This review will describe in vitro studies related to the anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties of oregano along with food preservation studies with oregano in various model food matrices. The major phytochemical content reported for OE and OEO will also be outlined to highlight the importance of characterizing the extract that is used, since the extraction process can have a significant effect on the phytochemicals therein. Finally, in vivo studies that investigate the gastrointestinal health benefits of oregano, specifically against inflammation, will be addressed to show the impact of oregano on gastrointestinal health.

Keywords: Origanum vulgare anti-microbial anti-oxidant carvacrol food preservative oregano phytochemical thymol.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of interest The authors do not declare any conflicts of interest.


Several compounds found in OE ...

Several compounds found in OE or OEO that have been reported in the…

Apoptotic activities of Mediterranean plants

José-Luis Ríos Isabel Andújar, in The Mediterranean Diet (Second Edition), 2020


All the Mediterranean countries use oregano ( Origanum vulgare L., Lamiaceae) as a culinary herb, to add flavor to meals. It contains essential oil (carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene) and phenolics as principal compounds. Oregano is known by its antiinflammatory and antimicrobial properties and is cited for its potentiality in cancer prevention. 65 To demonstrate these last properties, Savini et al. 66 tested an ethanolic extract on redox balance, cell proliferation, and cell death toward colon adenocarcinoma Caco2 cells. The experiments demonstrated that this extract induced growth arrest and cell death, and both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways were activated, suggesting that the whole extract — not only specific components — is responsible for the cytotoxic effect. 66

Oregano and health

Oregano is an aromatic herb that has always been used for cooking. In our country, partly because in many areas it grows spontaneously, partly because it is widely used in many tomato-based recipes, oregano is an integral part of our diet.

Many of you will be happy to know that this aromatic herb is very rich in beneficial properties and active ingredients useful for our body. In fact, it seems that, among the numerous properties, the polyphenols and flavonoids contained in rosemary are useful in the secretion of insulin, an important substance related to a dangerous disease such as diabetes.

According to recent American research published in the Journal of Agricultural Food, the insulin from rosemary could act positively on an enzyme linked to diabetes.

In addition to this aspect, still under study, oregano is rich in active ingredients such as phenols, Thymol and Carvacrol but also in other substances useful for our body such as proteins, mineral salts, fats and vitamins.

Video: Oil of Oregano Origanum vulgare

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