1. n. Bot. A bushy perennial plant (Origanum vulgare L) from the mint family whose dried leaves are used as a seasoning in cooking. Synonyms: origanum, wild marjoram.
2. n. Gastron. The dried leaves and flowering tops of this plant, used as a culinary herb. Synonyms: wild marjoram.
Spanish word for wild marjoram; from Latin origanum; from Greek origanon, from oros, «mountain», and ganos, «joy». The name is explained by the fact that this plant thrives on the slopes of the hills of several Mediterranean countries. There is a Greek legend that points to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as the first to cultivate oregano, and so giving it its fragrance.
Oregano is an aromatic plant from the mint family (Lamiaceae) that is used for seasoning in cooking and as a home remedy. In northern and central Europe it is called wild marjoram.
Its scientific name is Origanum vulgare L.
Origin, distribution and ecology
Oregano is native to the hills of the Mediterranean countries and western Asia. Spaniards brought the herb to America after the conquering of the continent. Now the plant is naturalized in several parts of the New World, including the United States.
Oregano is a very fragrant perennial plant.
Its aspect is bushy; an herb with woody stem.
The flowers are from purple to pink in color. The calyx, five-lobbed and bell-like, is constituted by five united sepals. The corolla is two-lipped, open-mouthed, and tubular in shape. The gynoecium is constituted by only one pistile. The flowers are arranged in a spike.
The fruit is an achene.
Oregano has culinary and medicinal uses. The parts used are the leaves and flowering tops.
Oregano has long been an essential condiment of Mediterranean cooking. Its dried leaves are strongly aromatic and flavorful. Their taste is pungent and bitter. Oregano is especially used in Italian cooking, but is also widely used to season many foods of other Mediterranean cuisines, as well as certain others such as those of Latin America. In the Spanish and Latin-American cuisines, oregano is mostly used in asado (a kind of barbeque), but also is used in many other dishes such as beans, stews, soups, etc.
The popularity of oregano in the world, especially in the United States, has risen sharply since the end of the twentieth century owing largely to the popularity of pizza.
Oregano is sometimes used interchangeably with marjoram.
This aromatic herb has also medicinal properties. Pliny the Elder thought it a remedy for bad digestion. In modern folk medicine of several countries, oregano is used for its digestive, stimulant and expectorant properties. It is also considered an antispasmodic home remedy.
Oregano is a source of aromatic oil. The principal components of the oil are thymol and carvacrol.