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Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[1][2][3]. Oregano is an important flavouring herb in Mediterranean cookery, and is often used dried rather than fresh[4]. This sub-species has a much stronger flavour than the type[4]. 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[5][6][7][8][3][4]. A nutritional analysis is available[9]. Much of the commercially available dried oregano does not come from this plant but from a number of different, often unrelated plants[4]. These include Lippia graveolens, L. palmeri and Origanum syriacum[4]. A herb tea is made from the dried leaves and flowering stems[3][10][4].

Unknown part


Material uses

An essential oil from the plant is used as a food flavouring, in soaps and perfumery[11][12].

A red or purple dye is obtained from the flowering tops[13][14][6][15], it is neither brilliant nor durable[11]. The plant repels ants[16].

A useful ground cover for sunny positions, forming a slowly spreading clump[197, K].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[17]. It should not be used medicinally by pregnant women though it is perfectly safe in small amounts for culinary purposes[17].

The leaves and flowering stems are strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and mildly tonic[13][14][18][7][17]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza, mild feverish illnesses, indigestion, stomach upsets and painful menstruation[4]. It is strongly sedative and should not be taken in large doses, though mild teas have a soothing effect and aid restful sleep[19]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[4]. Externally, oregano is used to treat bronchitis, asthma, arthritis and muscular pain[4]. The plant can be used fresh or dried - harvest the whole plant (but not the roots) in late summer to dry and store for winter use[19]. Oregano is often used in the form of an essential oil that is distilled from the flowering plant[13]. A few drops of the essential oil, put on cotton wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth, frequently relieves the pain of toothache[13][10]. This plant is one of the best natural antiseptics because of its high thymol content[14].

The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to treat the same kinds of complaints that the herb is used for[4].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - 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. Division in March or October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in June. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Origanum vulgare hirtum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil in full sun, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk[20][8]. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions[21]. Tolerates poor soils[22]. Dislikes wet soils[23].

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. There are some named forms[3]. Plants growing near the sea have the most fragrance[14]. A good companion plant, improving the flavour of nearby plants. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies[1][24]. A good companion for the cucumber family[25], it is beneficial to all nearby plants[26]. The whole plant is strongly aromatic.

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[27].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Origanum vulgare hirtum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Origanum vulgare hirtum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Origanum vulgare hirtum
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
  3. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  4. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  6. ? Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
  7. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  8. ? Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  9. ? 9.09.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  10. ? Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
  11. ? Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
  12. ? 12.012.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  13. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  14. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  17. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  19. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
  20. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  21. ? 21.021.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  22. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
  23. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
  24. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)
  25. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
  26. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
  27. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)

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