A Tale of Two Oreganos

I have two types of Oregano in my garden and use them in different dishes. There are many types of Oregano but I rarely plant the others unless I have a lot of space… they don’t like trees and I do.

Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) has stronger flavor than the wild version. It is hardy to zone 4 and can be grown outside even in my garden. I kept it in a pot for two years and planted it next to my Bush Cinquefoil this afternoon. Its 2 foot purple flower spikes will look flashy next to the 3 foot green and gold Cinquefoil. It will cascade over the stones as well.

This plant is from dry mountain regions with stony ground and alkaline soil in the Mediterranean and Asia which is why it transplants well to the western USA and other parts of the world.

It is not native, of course, but Oregano is covered with bees when it blooms and butterflies as well. It you want every pollinator in the vicinity to cruise your garden, this Oregano is the best attractor I have ever seen. I suggest it near your fruit trees, it will increase your crop.

Oregano has traditionally been a major player in old European herbal medicine gardens. I find it too strong for teas and pregnant women should not eat or drink it in any quantity.

I dry masses of it for cooking all those hearty winter favorites. My favorite is to add it to Posole, it completes the flavor of New Mexico red chile and creates ambrosia for the goddess.

Oddly enough, commercial dried Oregano is not made from Origanum spp. but can be made from a combination of up to 40 other species of plants not listed on the container.  Oregano is so easy to grow even on a balcony or in a south window that it is hard to justify eating whatever the market economy deems to be Oregano this year.

My other favorite is Italian Oregano (Origanum x majoricum), a sterile hybrid between Oregano and Marjoram.  This has a more delicate flavor, especially fresh, and is what I use on salads and fruits.  It blends better with other spices in tomato sauces.    It is only cold hardy to zone 6 and it’s pot is now in my house adding to the delightful smell of a summer garden indoors this winter.  I cannot imagine living without this tasty delight and will make room for it in my 10 foot south window.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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