Oregano (US: /ɔːˈrɛɡənoʊ, ə-/, UK: /ˌɒrɪˈɡɑːnoʊ/; Origanum vulgare) is a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.
Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm (7.9–31.5 in) tall, with opposite leaves 1–4 cm (0.39–1.57 in) long. The flowers are purple, 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) long, produced in erect spikes. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative, O. majorana, is known as sweet marjoram.
The word oregano is derived from Spanish orégano, from Latin orīganum, from Greek ὀρίγανον (orī́ganon). This is a compound of όρος (óros), "mountain", and γάνος (gános), "brightness", whence "brightness of the mountain".
Oregano is related to the herb marjoram, sometimes being referred to as wild marjoram. Oregano has purple flowers and spade-shaped, olive-green leaves. It is a perennial, although it is grown as an annual in colder climates, as it often does not survive the winter. Oregano is planted in early spring, the plants being spaced 30 cm (12 in) apart in fairly dry soil, with full sun. Oregano will grow in a pH range between 6.0 (mildly acidic) and 9.0 (strongly alkaline), with a preferred range between 6.0 and 8.0. It prefers a hot, relatively dry climate, but does well in other environments.
Many subspecies and strains of oregano have been developed by humans over centuries for their unique flavours or other characteristics. Tastes range from spicy or astringent to more complicated and sweet. Simple oregano sold in garden stores as Origanum vulgare may have a bland taste and larger, less-dense leaves, and is not considered the best for culinary use, with a taste less remarkable and pungent. It can pollinate other more sophisticated strains, but the offspring are rarely better in quality.
The related species, Origanum onites (Greece, Turkey) and O. syriacum (West Asia), have similar flavours. A closely related plant is marjoram from Turkey, which differs significantly in taste though, because phenolic compounds are missing from its essential oil. Some varieties show a flavour intermediate between oregano and marjoram.
Example cultivars of oregano include:
Cultivars traded as Italian, Sicilian, etc. are usually hardy sweet marjoram (O. ×majoricum), a hybrid between the southern Adriatic O. v. hirtum and sweet marjoram (O. majorana). They have a reputation for sweet and spicy tones, with little bitterness, and are prized for their flavor and compatibility with various recipes and sauces.
Oregano is a culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can be more flavorful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue, but cultivars adapted to colder climates may have a lesser flavor. Factors such as climate, season, and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present, and this effect may be greater than the differences between the various species of plants. Among the chemical compounds contributing to the flavour are carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene.
Oregano's most prominent modern use is as the staple herb of Italian cuisine. Its popularity in the U.S. began when soldiers returning from World War II brought back with them a taste for the "pizza herb", which had probably been eaten in southern Italy for centuries. There, it is most frequently used with roasted, fried, or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish. Oregano combines well with spicy foods popular in southern Italy. It is less commonly used in the north of the country, as marjoram generally is preferred.
In Turkish cuisine, oregano is mostly used for flavoring meat, especially for mutton and lamb. In barbecue and kebab restaurants, it can be usually found as a condiment, together with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Oregano oil has been used in folk medicine over centuries. Oregano essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the oregano plant. Although oregano or its oil may be used as a dietary supplement, there is no clinical evidence to indicate that either has any effect on human health.
In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned a Utah company, Young Living, that its herbal products, including oregano essential oil, were being promoted to have numerous unproven anti-disease effects, and so were being sold as unauthorized misbranded drugs subject to seizure and federal penalties. Similar FDA warning letters for false advertising and unproven health claims about oregano essential oil products were published in 2017 and 2018.
The essential oil of oregano is composed primarily of monoterpenoids and monoterpenes, with the relative concentration of each compound varying widely across geographic origin and other factors. Over 60 different compounds have been identified, with the primary ones being carvacrol and thymol ranging to over 80%, while lesser abundant compounds include p-cymene, γ-terpinene, caryophyllene, spathulenol, germacrene-D, β-fenchyl alcohol and δ-terpineol.
Drying of the plant material affects both quantity and distribution of volatile compounds, with methods using higher heat and longer drying times having greater negative impact. A sample of fresh whole plant material found to contain 33 g/kg dry weight (3.1 g/kg wet) decreased to below a third after warm-air convection drying. Much higher concentrations of volatile compounds are achieved towards the end of the growing season.
Adobada (Spanish for "marinated"), also spelled adovada, is a preparation for many dishes that are common in Mexican cuisine similar to tacos. Adobada is generally pork marinated in a "red" chile sauce with vinegar and oregano, but it can refer to different types of meat and to marinades closer to al pastor. It is generally served on small, pliable corn maize tortilla along with sautéed vegetables and cheese.Adobo
Adobo or Adobar (Spanish: marinade, sauce, or seasoning) is the immersion of raw food in a stock (or sauce) composed variously of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar to preserve and enhance its flavor. The Portuguese variant is known as Carne de vinha d'alhos.
The practice is native to Iberia, namely Spanish cuisine and Portuguese cuisine. It was widely adopted in Latin America and other Spanish and Portuguese colonies, including the Azores and Madeira. In the Philippines, the name adobo was given by the Spanish colonists to an indigenous cooking method that also uses vinegar, which, although superficially similar, had developed independently of Spanish influence.Chimichurri
Chimichurri (Spanish: [tʃimiˈtʃuri]) or chimmichurri is an uncooked sauce used in cooking; it comes in a green version (chimichurri verde) and a red version (chimichurri rojo) and originated in Argentina.It is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar. The dominant flavors are parsley and garlic.Greek salad
Greek salad or horiatiki salad (Greek: χωριάτικη σαλάτα choriatiki salata [xorˈjatici saˈlata] "village salad" or "rustic salad" or θερινή σαλάτα therini salata [θeriˈni saˈlata] "summer salad") is a salad in Greek cuisine.
Greek salad is made with pieces of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, onion, feta cheese (usually served as a slice on top of the other ingredients), and olives (usually Kalamata olives), typically seasoned with salt and Greek mountain oregano, and dressed with olive oil. Common additions include green bell pepper slices or caper berries (especially in the Dodecanese islands). Greek salad is often imagined as a farmer's breakfast or lunch, as its ingredients resemble those that a Greek farmer might have on hand.Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence (French pronunciation: [ɛʁb.də.pʁɔ.vɑ̃s]) is a mixture of dried herbs considered typical of the Provence region of southeast France. Formerly simply a descriptive term, commercial blends started to be sold under this name in the 1970s. These blends often contain savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Lavender leaves are also included in products in the North American market. The herb mixture is typically used with grilled foods and stews.Kokoretsi
Kokoretsi (Albanian: kukurec, Greek: κοκορέτσι, Turkish: kokoreç) is a dish of the Balkans and Asia Minor, consisting of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled; a variant consists of chopped innards cooked on a griddle. The intestines of suckling lambs are preferred.Lucban longganisa
Lucban longganisa is a Filipino pork sausage originating from Lucban, Quezon. It is a type of de recado longganisa. It is characterized by its use of oregano and its garlicky and sour taste. It is made with lean pork, pork fat, coarse salt, garlic, oregano, paprika, sugar, and vinegar. It can be prepared with or without the casing.Marjoram
Marjoram (; Origanum majorana) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. 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.Menudo (soup)
Menudo, also known as pancita ([little] gut or [little] stomach, from Spanish: Panza; "Gut/Stomach") or mole de panza ("Stomach sauce"), is a traditional Mexican soup, made with cow's stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base. It shares a name with a stew from the Philippines made with pork and pork liver.
Hominy, lime, onions, and oregano are used to season the broth.Oregano (software)
Oregano is a graphical software application for schematic capture and simulation of electrical circuits. The actual simulation is performed by the SPICE, Ngspice or Gnucap engines. It is similar to gEDA and KTechlab. It makes use of GNOME technology and is meant to run on free Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD et al.Origanum onites
Origanum onites, the Cretan oregano, Turkish oregano, pot marjoram or Ellinikí rίgani in Greek (Ελληνική ρίγανη), is a plant species in the genus Origanum found in Sicily, Greece and Turkey. It has similar flavors as oregano. Its essential oil can be distinguished from other species such as Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum). It has antimicrobial activities.Plectranthus amboinicus
Plectranthus amboinicus, once identified as Coleus amboinicus, is a semi-succulent perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae with a pungent oregano-like flavor and odor. It is native to Southern and Eastern Africa. It is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere in the tropics where it is used as a traditional medicine, spice, and ornamental plant.Relleno negro
Relleno negro (black stuffing) is a cuisine dish from Yucatán, México, based on turkey, pork and mixed chili peppers (chilmole). It is traditionally prepared in the month of November in a festival called Hanal Pixán.The original recipe contains turkey, ground pork to make the but (meatball), tomato, chilmole, achiote, black pepper, cloves, cumin, oregano, epazote, garlic and boiled eggs. The black color for the stew comes from the mixture and toast of the chilies that are used in the chilmole, among which we can find: ancho chili, black peppers, cloves, cumin, natural achiote, burnt tortillas, sour orange juice, garlic, oregano and salt.Salmoriglio
Salmoriglio is a Southern Italian condiment made of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped oregano and parsley, salt, and pepper. It is usually served with seafood or grilled and roasted meats.In some American applications, salmoriglio is served as a compound butter, slightly soft and whipped, containing Dijon mustard, lemon, olive oil, and fresh herbs.Sorol (food)
Sorol is a Filipino dish consisting of chicken cooked in a coconut milk-based broth primarily made with ginger, Mexican oregano (kalabo), labuyo chili, and tomatoes. The dish originates from the island of Camiguin. It is a type of ginataan. It can also be made with pork, beef, or seafood. Mexican oregano may be difficult to acquire and thus some versions use other herbs like lemongrass, other types of oregano and/or sage.Thyme
Thyme () is any member of the genus Thymus of aromatic perennial evergreen herbs in the mint family Lamiaceae. Thymes are relatives of the oregano genus Origanum. They have culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, the species most commonly cultivated and used for culinary purposes being Thymus vulgaris.Tirokafteri
Ktipiti (Greek: χτυπητή), also known as Tirokafteri in some regions (Greek: τυροκαυτερή), is a cheese spread from Greece. The preparation of the dish may vary from region to region, but ingredients most commonly include feta cheese (sometimes combined with one or more other types of soft, white cheeses), hot peppers (such as red cherry pepper), roasted peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt, or oregano. It is commonly eaten as part of a mezze platter, or by itself, with slices of warm pita bread. The dish has a spicy, salty taste, with mellow undertones of olive oil.Za'atar
Za'atar (Arabic: زَعْتَر, IPA: [ˈzaʕtar]) is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum (oregano), Calamintha (basil thyme), Thymus (typically Thymus vulgaris, i.e., thyme), and Satureja (savory). The name za'atar alone most properly applies to Origanum syriacum, considered in biblical scholarship to be the hyssop (Hebrew: אזוב [eˈzov]) of the Hebrew Bible. It is also the name for a condiment made from dried hyssop leaves, mixed with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices. Used in Levantine cuisine, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East.
Culinary herbs and spices
Medicinal herbs and fungi
See also: Receptor/signaling modulators • Ion channel modulators