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Oregano (Latin name Oríganum) is a perennial herb, 30-70 cm high. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family, to which plants such as basil, motherwort, mint and sage belong.
Other popular names for oregano: in Russian - forest mint, incense, bee-lover, in Ukrainian - motherboard, and also - matserdushka, brass color, flea beetle, zvirazh, bugs, zenovka.
The familiar oregano seasoning is the dried leaves and inflorescences of the herb of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.), so we can say that this is its second name. Used as a dry and fresh seasoning. In folk medicine, it is part of many medicinal preparations.
What does this herb smell and look like?
The smell of the leaves is similar to thyme, the same fragrant and spicy. Taste with hints of citrus, which give the plant contained pinene, ocimene, limonene, carvacrol and caryophyllene. Flowers are used in perfumery to make oils and fragrances. The plant is an excellent honey plant. Its tart, bitter-spicy aroma attracts bees.
The oregano plant is a branched stem of a tetrahedral shape, which is covered with oblong leaves with a pointed edge up to 4 cm long. The color of the leaves is dark green with noticeable veins. The stem and leaves are covered with soft hairs. At the top of the stem there are small flowers, pink-purple, collected in panicles.
In the photo below you can see what it is - oregano herb and how it looks; we will show pictures of the leaves and flowers of the garden plant.
Where and how does it grow?
It grows in groups in light forest glades, meadows, along river banks, on the slopes of mountains, ravines and hills. Depending on the region, the same oregano varieties have different shades of taste and aroma. Oregano (as oregano is called in another way) is a perennial and grows in one place up to 25 years.
When and how does it bloom?
Flowers appear only in the second year of the plant's life. The buds bloom at the end of June and until the end of August, oregano is covered with fragrant inflorescences. On some plants, bisexual flowers are formed, on others - only pistillate, which open a week earlier than bisexual. By the beginning of September, seeds appear - 4 small brown nuts in a cup. The seeds are so small that 1 milligram of them fits 1 thousand pieces.
History and geography
The homeland of oregano is North Africa and Southwest Asia. It grows in the Mediterranean, in Russia. Lamiaceae are found in the European part, in the Caucasus and southern Siberia. In Europe and the United States, oregano is grown commercially.
This plant has found its place in the legends and myths of ancient peoples. The Greeks believed that it was with honey collected from the Cretan oregano (dictamnon) that Zeus was nourished in infancy. Another legend, which was initiated by Aristotle in his work "Stories of Animals", says that a wild goat, having received a wound from an arrow, seeks and eats oregano. Perhaps that is why the Greeks believed that this plant was capable of drawing arrows from wounds. Another bush of oregano is mentioned in the writings of Avicena, Aristophanes and Dioscorides, who described its medicinal properties.
In the Middle Ages, various types of oregano were used in magic. It was believed that "female grass" can extinguish a man's love ardor. Also, this plant was used for secret abortions and for menstrual irregularities.
Similar plants, their description
The Yasnotkovs include more than 190 plant species., some of which are perennial, others are annual. Many of them are used for food and for the preparation of essential oils. Therefore, oregano has many related plants that differ from it in appearance and taste. Here is a brief botanical description.
Many people wonder if oregano and rosemary are the same thing or not. The rosemary plant (Rosmarínus officinális) is a member of a different genus of Yasnotkovy. It does not even look like oregano outwardly - it is a shrub with flat leaves on a hard stem. It blooms with small purple flowers. Has a specific, bitter taste, vaguely reminiscent of mint. It is used for flavoring baked goods, compotes, soups. It goes well with legumes and mushrooms. Oil infused with rosemary is used for massage, in home cosmetics and as a dressing for vegetable salads.
Among the medicinal properties, it is worth noting the anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of rosemary leaves. This plant is considered an aphrodisiac, i.e. increases libido. What distinguishes it from oregano - common oregano. It is used as a seasoning in baked goods (especially good in pizza), soups, homemade sausages, stews and fish, beans, for omelets. Both of these plants are used for canning vegetables. The use of both of these seasonings is contraindicated in pregnant women and hypertensive patients.
Common thyme (Thymus vulgáris) is a low-growing plant creeping on the ground. Just like oregano, it is a perennial and can grow in one place for up to 5 years. The leaves are grayish, smaller than that of oregano, the stem is woody at the root.
Oregano and thyme are not the same thing. The latter plant tastes like caraway and anise - spicy, woody with hints of citrus. Some species do not differ in taste and aroma from oregano. As a seasoning used for meat, chicken, for pickling cabbage, added to soups. Thyme twigs and leaves - a variety of thyme (creeping thyme) - are added to tea.
Of the medicinal properties, thyme has antiseptic, anticonvulsant and expectorant properties. Due to the high content of thymol in fresh leaves, it can cause nausea. Thyme should be added at the beginning of cooking to develop its flavor. And oregano is added to fish and meat at the end.
Types and varieties
There are 55 types of oregano. Oregano is divided into subspecies according to the smell:
- Cretan (Origanum creticum).
- Syrian, ezov (Origanum smyrneum).
- Turkish (Origanum onites).
- Greek (Origanum heracleoticum).
- Marjoram (Orīganum majorāna).
For our climate, Russian breeders have bred oregano varieties:
- White oregano - a compact bush with white flowers.
- Honey scent - a small plant with purple inflorescences.
- Fairy Is a high-yielding variety with dark green foliage.
For growing on balconies and in the open field, the following varieties are suitable:
- Variety - golden foliage and snow-white flowers.
- Gold Tip - pink inflorescences and small leaves with golden tips.
- Beauty kent - decorative variety, flowers change color from white to lilac.
- Variegata - a small bush with leaves edged with a white stripe.
- Herrenhausen - purple flowers are gathered in bunches.
Among the oregano, there are many decorative varieties with a wonderful aroma, which are worth planting in your garden or balcony.
Benefits of oregano
In folk medicine, over the centuries of application, a wide range of properties of this plant has been determined. Oregano leaves and flowers help with:
- sleep disorders;
- respiratory tract infections (bronchitis, pneumonia);
- violation of the menstrual cycle;
- stones in the bladder;
- digestive problems.
Infusions with oregano are believed to strengthen the nervous system.... Oregano is also a part of the urological phyto-paste "Urolesan".
Possible harm and contraindications
Oregano should be discarded by those who suffer from:
- intestinal and stomach ulcers;
- diseases of the heart and blood vessels;
- increased acidity of gastric juice;
- hepatic and renal colic.
It must be remembered that oregano is contraindicated for pregnant women - this plant can provoke a miscarriage... Long-term use of oregano in men causes sexual impotence.
How to cultivate?
This plant loves the sun and tolerates a lack of moisture well, therefore, sunny areas are chosen for planting. The soil is with a neutral level of acidity, sandy loam. Oregano looks good among other perennials in the rock garden.
The plant propagates by seeds and dividing the bush. On the street, seeds are planted in the fall in closed greenhouses. Planting depth is 1-1.5 cm. Seeds are sown for seedlings at the end of March. Then the grown plants are planted on open ground at the end of May, sheltered from night frosts.
Oregano reproduces well by dividing the rhizome and layering. The bush can bloom in the first year of life, but young buds should be removed so that the plant does not lose strength for flowers.
Collect the stems for medicinal fees during flowering. Fresh leaves for food, on the contrary, are cut off before flowering, before they become coarse. It is best to cut the plant early in the morning, before dew falls.
For processing plants, only fresh shoots are taken for essential oil. For cooking, oregano should be placed under a canopy or in a dryer, maintaining a temperature of 30-40 ° C. Under these conditions, the leaves will retain their aroma and color.
How to store and prepare for the winter?
Store dried seasonings in canvas bags or jars made of opaque glass. You can freeze the plant in the freezer by carefully sorting out the shoots, washing and drying with a towel.
The fresh plant can be placed in a container of water and placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This will keep the oregano fresh for a couple of days.
So, we told all the most interesting about oregano - this unique herb that has a lot of useful properties. Its characteristic aroma will give your dishes their own flavor. As a seasoning, it goes well with many herbs and is suitable for almost all dishes, including drinks. Its medicinal properties have been known since ancient times and are still used in folk medicine. This plant deserves to be planted in your garden.