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Origanum vulgare L.


Origanum vulgare L.




Origanum hirtum Link, Origanum gracile Koch, Origanum viride (Boissier) Halacsy.

Vernacular Names

English Oregano, wild marjoram.
American Mediterranean or European oregano.
Philippines Oregano, suganda, torongil de Limon.
French Origan.

Note: Commercially, the term 'oregano' has a wide meaning and includes more than 60 species of different genera and families.

Geographical Distribution

Origanum is predominantly a Mediterranean genus, especially of the eastern part (more than 75% of the species). Origanum vulgare most probably originated in the Mediterranean, but it is widely distributed now from the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, throughout Europe and the Mediterranean to West and Central Asia and Taiwan. It is also cultivated in many countries of the world, including Southeast Asia (e.g. Indonesia, the Philippines) where it is more important than O. majorana.


O. vulgare is a woody perennial that can grow up to 1 m tall. The stem is ascends, with roots at the base, purplish-brown, hairy to hairless and with the branches measure up to 25 cm long.

The leaves are up to 45 pairs per stem. The petiole is up to 2 cm long. The blade is ovate to roundish, measuring 6-40 mm x 5-30 mm, hairy to hairless, with glandular (100-2000 glands per cm2) and entire or remotely serrulate at the margin. The spike is 3-35 mm x 2-8 mm. The bracts are 2-25 pairs per spike, subovate, measuring 2-11 mm x 1-7 mm, hairy to hairless and purplish to greenish.

The sepal is tubular, measures 2.5-4.5 mm long, with 0.5-1 mm long teeth and hairy to hairless. The petal is 3-11 mm long, purple, pink or white and hairy outside. The lobes of the upper lip are 0.2-0.7 mm long. The lobes of the lower lip are unequal and measure 0.5-1.7 mm long. The upper pair of the stamens measure up to 4.5 mm long while the lower pair measures up to 5.5 mm long. The style measures up to 13 mm long.

Ecology / Cultivation

O. vulgare is a sun-loving plant. Being temperate and subtropical in origin, it can survive cold weather conditions. O. vulgare, however, is hardier than marjoram. In its natural habitat, O. vulgare grows on limestone soil up to 4000 m altitude. O. vulgare prefers light dry soils with a pH of 4.5-8.7. The mean water requirement during the growing period is 500-1000 mm, and the average temperature should not be lower than 15°C, although plants may survive much worse conditions. In the tropics, the crop grows best at altitudes of 1000-2000 m. In the Philippines, O. vulgare is cultivated in Silang, Cavite, which is at 600 m altitude with an average annual temperature of 23-25°C.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1) Medicinal Herbs


    1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices.

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