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Origanum vulgare ssp hirtum, Greek Oregano


Often cultivated as a culinary herb, this is a sub-species from Greece. Its flowers are white and it has a stronger fragrance. It is more commonly grown commercially because of its stronger fragrance.

Plants growing near the sea have the most fragrance. The whole plant is strongly aromatic.

The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies.

A good companion for the cucumber family, it is beneficial to all nearby plants. A good companion plant, improving the flavour of nearby plants.

Oregano has been used as a culinary and medicinal herb for thousands of years. It has a beneficial effect upon the digestive and respiratory systems and is also used to promote menstruation. It should not be used medicinally by pregnant women though it is perfectly safe in small amounts for culinary purposes.

An essential oil from the plant is used as a food flavouring, in soaps and perfumery.

A red or purple dye is obtained from the flowering tops, it is neither brilliant nor durable.

The plant repels ants.

A useful ground cover for sunny positions, forming a slowly spreading clump.

Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil in full sun, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions. Tolerates poor soils. Dislikes wet soils.

Sow early spring at 10 - 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.

The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring.

Edible uses

Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb. Oregano is an important flavouring herb in Mediterranean cookery, and is often used dried rather than fresh. This sub-species has a much stronger flavour than the type. The leaves are used as a flavouring for salad dressings, vegetables and legumes, and are frequently included in strongly flavoured dishes with chillies, garlic, onions etc. A nutritional analysis is available. Much of the commercially available dried oregano does not come from this plant but from a number of different, often unrelated plants. These include Lippia graveolens, L. palmeri and Origanum syriacum.

A herb tea is made from the dried leaves and flowering stems.


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