(Origanum Onites).—One of the most familiar Herbs in
British gardens. The aromatic leaves are used both green
and when dried for flavoring. Strictly the plant is a
perennial, but it is readily grown as an annual. Sow in
February or March in gentle heat, and in the open ground
a month later.
Marjoram is one of the most familiar of our kitchen
herbs, and is cultivated for the use of their aromatic leaves, either in a
green or dried state, for flavoring and other culinary purposes, being mainly
put into stuffing's. 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.
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.
Marjoram has a more
mild, sweet flavor than oregano with perhaps a hint of
balsam. It is said to be “the” meat herb but compliments
all foods except sweets. Common to Mediterranean and
Middle Eastern foods, marjoram is grown domestically and
imported mostly from Egypt.
Plants may be grown from seed or started
from summer cuttings. Roots may be divided in the fall.
When grown from seed, it should be started indoors or in
cold frames in early spring. Transfer outside when
temperatures aren't expected to drop below 45 degrees.
To keep the plants neat, cut out all dead wood and
remove dead flowers and stalks.
Begin harvesting the leaves and
stem tips when plants are 4 to 5 inches high. The flavor
will improve after the flower buds form, just before
flowering. To harvest, cut the stem tops down to the
first two sets of leaves. New stems and shoots will
grow, producing second and sometimes third crops. Dry
the leaves in a warm, dry, shaded place, and store them
in an airtight container.
Externally, the dried leaves and tops may be applied in
bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and
rheumatism, as well as for colic. An infusion made from
the fresh plant will relieve nervous headache, by virtue
of the camphoraceous principle contained in the oil.