Marjoram

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Marjoram
Origanum majorana 002.JPG
Closeup photograph of leaves and a flower head with white flowers
Flowers
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Origanum
Species:
O. majorana
Binomial name
Origanum majorana
Synonyms[1]
  • Majorana hortensis Moench
Growing tip with flower buds
Dried marjoram herb for flavoring

Marjoram (/ˈmɑːrərəm/;[2] Origanum majorana) is a cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. 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,[3] although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum.

History[edit]

Marjoram is indigenous to Cyprus, Turkey, the Mediterranean, Western Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant, and was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.[4] It may have spread to the British Isles during the Middle Ages.[5] Marjoram was not widely used in the United States until after World War II.[5]

The name marjoram (Old French: majorane; Medieval Latin: majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).[6]

Description[edit]

Leaves are smooth, simple, petiolated, ovate to oblong-ovate, 0.5–1.5 cm (0.2–0.6 inches) long, 0.2–0.8 cm (0.1–0.3 inches) wide, with obtuse apex, entire margin, symmetrical but tapering base, and reticulate venation. The texture of the leaf is extremely smooth due to the presence of numerous hairs.[7]

Cultivation[edit]

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) essential oil

Considered a tender perennial (USDA Zones 7–9),[8] marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5.

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as herbes de Provence and za'atar. The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam-distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, and pinene.

Related species[edit]

Oregano (Origanum vulgare), sometimes listed with marjoram as O. majorana, is also called wild marjoram. It is a perennial common in southern Europe and north to Sweden in dry copses and on hedge-banks, with many stout stems 30–80 centimetres (12–31 in) high, bearing short-stalked, somewhat ovate leaves and clusters of purple flowers. It has a stronger flavor than marjoram.

Pot marjoram or Cretan oregano (O. onites) has similar uses to marjoram.

Hardy marjoram or French/​Italian/​Sicilian marjoram (O. × majoricum), a cross of marjoram with oregano, is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet.[9]

O. × pulchellum is known as showy marjoram or showy oregano.

Uses[edit]

Marjoram is used for seasoning soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces, and herbal teas.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Origanum majorana". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  2. ^ Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. "The American Heritage Dictionary entry: marjoram". www.ahdictionary.com.
  3. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  4. ^ "Marjoram is the happiness herb". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  5. ^ a b Sanderson, Helen; Renfrew, Jane M. (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 0415927463.
  6. ^ Marjoram, Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, November 2001.
  7. ^ BP Pimple, AN Patel, PV Kadam, MJ Patil. Microscopic evaluation and physicochemical analysis of Origanum majorana Linn leaves. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease 2, S897-S903.
  8. ^ "Learn 2 Grow: Origanum majorana".
  9. ^ "Origanum majoricum Cambess". www.gbif.org.
  10. ^ "Marjoram, Herb". Food Reference. Retrieved 28 February 2017.

External links[edit]

Data related to Origanum majorana at Wikispecies Media related to Origanum majorana at Wikimedia Commons