Marjoram or sweet marjoram is a perennial in the mint family that grows wild in the Mediterranean region, with 90% of the world’s supply coming from Egypt. Note that the genera names Origanum and Marjorana are used interchangeably by some. Marjoram is also called wild marjoram, as well as joy of the mountains and wintersweet.
What to look for:
It is a perennial herb, with creeping roots, sending up woody stems about a foot high, branched above, often purplish. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, about an inch long, nearly entire hairy beneath. The flowers are in corymbs, with reddish bracts, a two-lipped pale purple corolla, and a five-toothed calyx, blooming from the end of June, through August. There is a variety with white flowers and light-green stalks, another with variegated leaves. It is propagated by division of roots in the autumn.
How Mother nature loves it:
The Marjorams are some of the most familiar of our kitchen herbs, and are cultivated for the use of their aromatic leaves, either in a green or dried state, for flavouring and other culinary purposes, being mainly put into stuffings. Sweet Marjoram leaves are also excellent in salads. They have whitish flowers, with a two-lipped calyx, and also contain a volatile oil, which has similar properties to the Wild Marjoram. Winter Marjoram is really a native of Greece, but is hardy enough to thrive in the open air in England, in a dry soil, and is generally propagated by division of the roots in autumn.
How to use it:
Marjoram has a very ancient medical reputation. The Greeks used it extensively, both internally and externally for fomentation. It was a remedy for narcotic poisons, convulsions and dropsy. Among the Greeks, if Marjoram grew on a grave, it augured the happiness of the departed, and among both the Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to crown young couples with Marjoram.
Marjoram is sweeter and milder than oregano. It is characteristic in German cooking, where it is an important part of the spice mixture for sausage; English cooking, with goose and chestnuts for example; in French cooking, for example in herbes de Provence, and in Italian and Greek cooking, where it is used in sauces and meat dishes, among other uses. Marjoram is also used in body care products, including skin cream, bath bars, body lotion, body wash, and shaving gel.