Marjoram (Marrubium vulgare) is one of the most popular herbs in Europe. Its popularity is due to its pleasant aroma and flavor, which makes it very suitable for cooking or as a flavoring ingredient in food products. It grows wild throughout much of Europe and North Africa, but cultivation was first introduced into England during the Middle Ages when English farmers used it to make soap. Today, marjoram is grown commercially in many countries around the world.
Marjoram is a member of the mint family and belongs to the genus Marrubium. The leaves are dark green with narrow white margins and up to 1 inch long. They have no sharp points at their tips; instead they are rounded like those of other members of the mint family such as spearmint or peppermint. The flowers are yellowish-green and up to 3/4 inch across.
They are borne singly or in small clusters on short stalks. Marjoram is considered a non-flowering herb because the flower stalk does not develop into fruit until maturity.
The name “mar” means “marsh” in Latin, so marrubus literally means marsh marigold.
The species name “vulgare” means common. The name “marjoram” is often used to refer to this specific herb as well as the similar oregano, Origanum majorana L.
Marjoram does best in full sun and well-drained loamy soil with a neutral pH. It prefers a slightly dry environment, so it should not be watered excessively. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9 and can survive winter lows of 10º to 15ºF. It grows wild in the mountainous regions of southern France, Portugal, Spain and Northern Africa.
Marjoram can be harvested at any time during its growing cycle. Leaves can be picked as needed; however, this may cause a setback in regrowth, so it is best to harvest branches with several leaves along with some stem. This will allow for regrowth.
In cooking, marjoram is used as a flavoring in the same way that other herbs such as thyme or rosemary are used. It can also be used for teas and potpourri.
Marjoram is known to help relieve abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. It helps the body produce more saliva and tears. It also helps relieve coughs and colds.
Marjoram also has sedative effects and is sometimes used to treat insomnia.
Marjoram can also be smoked or made into a tea and used to help relieve headache pain and dizziness.
Marjoram is also known to increase female hormones and is sometimes used by women to help with menopause and other hormonal-related illnesses. It can also help increase milk flow in nursing and post-partum women, and it helps relieve the pain of menstrual cramps.
For women with unopened flower buds, marjoram can help promote ovulation.
Marjoram can be used to help treat respiratory ailments from simple allergies to the common cold. It can help treat skin conditions like ring worm and athlete’s foot, urinary conditions such as bed wetting and enuresis in children, digestive issues including stomach and intestinal ulcers, and heart disease.
In large doses, marjoram is a powerful laxative.
Marjoram should not be used by people with asthma or respiratory illness. It may cause over-stimulation of the nervous system, convulsions, and death when taken in large doses. It should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women.
As with any herb, marjoram should not be used in place of proper medical treatment or given to children.
There are no known drug interactions; however, as with all drugs, one should consult a physician before taking marjoram.
Marjoram has been used as a metaphor for an idealized woman. The term “marjoram” has also been used to describe prostitutes.
Parts of the plant have been found in both Stone and Bronze Age excavations in Asia Minor and in Crete. It is believed that the plant has been used since ancient times.
The Celts burned marjoram to keep away evil spirits and bad dreams. The ancient Greeks burned it as incense for the same reasons as well as to increase focus during meditation.
Marjoram was used medicinally by the Romans to treat headaches, mental illness, and respiratory problems. They also burned it at funerals to mask the smell of death. In the Middle Ages, it was used in cooking and in remedies for things such as bad breath and heartburn.
Marjoram grows wild in southern France, Spain, and Portugal, and is a popular seasoning in these countries. It is also found in other parts of southern Europe and western Asia.
Marjoram is not a common ingredient in modern food preparation. However, it can be found in soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes, and in stuffings. It is also used as a flavoring in some alcoholic drinks.
Marjoram is considered an easy plant to grow, though it prefers full sun and dry conditions. It can be grown from seeds or cuttings, and grows best in well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
Marjoram should be planted in fall or spring. It grows best at temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marjoram plants typically grow to a height of between 1 and 3 feet and a width of half that. The plants bloom in the summer, producing spikes of tiny white flowers. The flowers are not showy, but add a nice flavor when used in cooking. The leaves are soft and slim, with a grayish color.
After blooming, the marjoram plant produces small, yellowish fruits. The fruits are not commonly used in cooking but can be dried and used in potpourri. They also contain essential oil.
Marjoram plants can be grown indoors or outdoors, but take a long time to mature. They can be grown from seeds, but the plants that grow from these seeds will not produce flowers until their second year. It is more efficient to take cuttings from an existing plant or buy a plant and grow it from there.
Marjoram plants can be transplanted outdoors in mid-spring. They can also survive light frosts. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects.
Marjoram plants can be propagated indoors anywhere with a window that receives plenty of sunlight. It requires sandy, well-drained soil and moderate watering when the top inch of soil becomes dry. It should be watered less in the winter. It does not grow well in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marjoram plants need to be pruned to promote bushy growth and to make harvesting easier. They can be harvested anytime, but the best time is just before flowers bloom. The leaves should be harvested and dried thoroughly before use.
Marjoram should be harvested by pruning the stem of a plant just below a leaf node. The leaves lower on the stem will have some damage from the removal, but this will not be visible after drying.
If you decide to grow marjoram at home, it is important to follow these instructions.
Marjoram can be easily grown from seed and does best in a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Sow the seeds in the spring and cover lightly with soil, as light sows. Keep the soil lightly moist until the seeds germinate, which they will in 10 to 14 days. Transplant into larger containers when they reach 2 inches tall.
Transplant into the garden once all chance of frost has passed.
A well-tended marjoram plant will have light green leaves and a peppery aroma. The flowers are not generally used for cooking.
Marjoram is a hardy herb that grows to be about 12 to 18 inches tall. It has small leaves that are a gray-green color and the stems can either be square or round. It gets its name from the word “majoram,” which means “greater” in Latin.
Marjoram is a member of the genus “Origanum.” There are several different types of marjoram, all of which can be used to flavor foods.
Marjoram can be grown outdoors or in a pot indoors. It prefers full sun, but will grow in partial sun. It needs well-draining soil and should be watered so that it dries out some between waterings.
Marjoram can be grown from seed, but the plants will take more than a year to flower. It is best to buy an established plant from a nursery or garden center.
Marjoram leaves should be harvested when the plant is in full bloom. Cut off the stems and place them on a tray or other shallow container where air can circulate around them. After a few days, rub the leaves gently between your hands to release the essential oils. Store the dried leaves in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
Marjoram can be used for a wide variety of cooking recipes. It is often used as a substitute for oregano, though their flavors are different. When substituting, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of marjoram for every 1 teaspoon of oregano. It can be used in sauces, soups, stews, meats and vegetable dishes.
Marjoram has several health benefits, most noticeably its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also purported to help with gastrointestinal distress such as gas and indigestion.
Marjoram is thought to be an aphrodisiac, which may explain its occasional use in love potions. It is also used to treat menstrual cramps and insomnia.
Marjoram essential oil is said to help treat bruises, earaches, fungal skin infections, and toothaches. It can also be inhaled to increase mental focus.
Marjoram essential oil is not safe for internal ingestion and should never be applied undiluted to the skin. When cooking with marjoram, always use gloves or wash hands immediately after touching the leaves. Avoid contact with the eyes.
Marjoram tea is said to help with coughs, as well as sore throats and bronchitis. It is often used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Marjoram can be grown easily at home. It prefers sandy, loamy soil that is moist but well drained. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial sun. It should be watered regularly until it is established, then watered only in periods of extended drought.
The flowers and leaves can be harvested at any point during the growing season. The leaves should be cut by hand using garden shears. They should be stored in a dark, airtight container and kept in the refrigerator until they are to be used. A windowsill is usually not dark enough to prevent discoloration.
Seeds can be sprouted and used in salads and sandwiches.
CAUTION: It is wise to never consume large quantities of any one particular herb. You should never consume marjoram in excess, as it might have a toxic effect. If you are pregnant, do not take any form of marjoram internally or use it on your skin. It can cause contractions and should not be used in any way if you are currently pregnant.
Marjoram is not known to interact with any type of medication. As with any new medication or supplement, you should consult your physician before using marjoram.