Marjoram is in the Lamiaceae family of plants originating from the Mediterranean. They may be herbaceous perennials or small evergreen sub-shrubs, with highly aromatic foliage. The plants bear spikes of small bracts of pale pink flowers in summer to early autumn.
Origanum vulgare is called wild marjoram in the UK, and the names are interchangeable.
In summer the flowers of marjoram and oregano plants are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. The aromatic, sometimes hairy, foliage ranges from dark green to golden coloured, and forms a tight mat in winter.
Use leaves in salads, with eggs, vegetables, roasts and grilled fish. Add to marinades.
Pick blooms just as they open and scatter over fresh leaf salads, or roasted vegetables.
We have a healthy patch of low-growing marjoram planted into a small bed that edges the concrete walkway at the allotment. This overwintered well in 2019-2020 – whereas the clump of thyme planted with it did not fare so well.
We also have a new patch (spring 2020) of ‘Sicilian oregano’ that was a gift from the allotmenteers below, who in turn had had it gifted to them by a Sicilian gardener and fellow allotment holder. The Sicilian oregano is low-growing with a yellow-green leaf. There is a clump at the end of the middle lower bed – planted to the side of the lemon verbena. We also have very small pieces of the Sicilian oregano planted into the path, at the base of the raised strawberry bed (by the stairs that lead up to the pea bed and garden shed).
“Another member of the Labiatae family which chose the thirteenth century to put in an appearance was marjoram, or Joy of the Mountains. This aromatic herb from south-west Europe and Turkey always seems to have been associated with happiness, and in Ancient Greece was often wound into headdresses and garlands for brides and grooms. Origanum majorana is the species we call Sweet (p.100) Marjoram. As becomes such an ancient herb, the first part of its name is from classical Greek, while the marjoram comes from Arabic. Culpeper believed that our own wild marjoram, O. vulgare, kept adders at bay.” (The Origin of Plants, pp.99-100.)