Wild marjoram Origanum vulgare

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See July, August, September
Colour Purple
Habitat Grassland

”So he brought me marjoram smelling rare-Its sweetness filled all the air” - Alexander Hay Japp,”Memories”

Description

The wild marjoram, the pink flowers of which may be found on chalk and limestone grasslands in summer, is the same species as the classic aromatic Mediterranean herb often used in cooking.

How to spot it

Erect squarish stems with opposite pairs of oval pointed stalked leaves are topped by clusters of dark red buds, which open into small rosy pink flowers. Leaves are pleasantly aromatic.

Where it grows

Found in grassland, hedge banks, road verges and scrub.

Best time to see

In flower from June to September.

Cultural info

In flower language marjoram is said to be a symbol of blushes.

How's it doing?

Quite common in the south of England, but largely absent from central, northern and western Scotland. It has declined slightly except in the main areas of chalk and limestone soils.

Did you know?

  • The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, first cultivated marjoram and that her gentle touch had given it its fragrance, so newly married couples were crowned with marjoram wreaths.
  • The Greeks dressed their hair and eyebrows with a fragrant pomade made from marjoram.
  • A bunch of sweet marjoram was placed beside milk containers during thundery weather as it was thought that this would prevent the milk going sour.
  • One local name for marjoram is 'Joy of the mountain'.
  • Made into marjoram tea, wild marjoram was quite a cure-all helping, for example, indigestion, earache, bladder trouble, cough and oedema.
  • The beauty of marjoram is that it can be added to various dishes such as soups, roasted meats, sauteed vegetables and marinades.
  • Adding marjoram to the garden not only creates a beautiful atmosphere, but it also helps attract butterflies and other insects that feed on pests and decomposing matter, and can pollinate plants.