Origanum vulgare

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Origanum vulgare L.


Life form: perennial
Usage: economic plant

Exposure: sun   7

Moisture: moderately moist bis Moisture: moist

Soil: gritty loam

Arrangement: opposite
Leaves: decidious

Shape: ovate

Division: simple

Shape: labiate
Fruit: schizocarp

61C / b71f53 

Inflorescence: spike

Petals: single
Habit: not specified

Growth form: clump-forming



Origanum vulgare, commonly known as oregano, wild marjoram, is a perennial.


Origanum vulgare was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name is considered as validly published.


Origanum vulgare is a species in the genus Origanum which contains approximately 64 to 70 species and belongs to the family of the Lamiaceae (Mint Family).


Origanum vulgare - habitus
Origanum vulgare - leaves


The perennials have a clumpforming habit and reach heights of 30 to 90 centimetres. The plants reach a width of 0.6 to 1 metres.


Origanum vulgare is deciduous. The green, simple leaves are opposite. They are ovate, entire and petiolate. The surface of the leaves is pilose.

Flowers and Fruits

Origanum vulgare produces spikes of dark-pink labiate flowers from July to September. The plants are hermaphroditic.

The perennials produce brown schizocarps from summer to autumn.

Root System

The plants form rhizomes.


Origanum vulgare is native to the whole of Europe, Turkey, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, West-Siberia, East Siberia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Himalaya, Mongolia and Northwest Africa and is naturalized in North America and China.


The perennials prefer a sunny situation on fresh to moist soil. The substrate should be comparatively poor with a pH between 8 and 10. The plants prefer gritty loam. They tolerate temperatures down to -18°C (USDA zone 7).

Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber

  • open areas
  • rockeries
  • steppes/dry forests (usually calcareous soil)

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: drought


The ornamental value of Origanum vulgare lies especially in its fragrance and the ornamental leaves. The recommended planting distance is 30 centimetres, the perennials are best planted in groups of 5 to 10. Suited for cottage gardens, rockeries, rooftop gardens, roof greening, beds and borders and for balconies and terraces, as well as suited as groundcover, container plant, cut flowers and as bee pasture.

Maintenance and Propagation

The plants usually need very little maintenance.

  • Cut back faded flowering shoots in spring to promote compact growth.

Propagate by sowing or by division.


Pests and Diseases

Honeydew, galls and distorted leaves are a sign for an infestation with aphids. Use an insecticide or control biologically , e.g. with parasitic wasps or predators such as Aphidoletes aphidimyza.

Fine webs on the plants indicate an infestation with red spider mites. These sap-sucking insects mainly appear under glass and can be controlled either with insecticide or biologically with parasitic mites.

Sudden wilting and pale green discolouration indicate a fungal infection (phytophthora). Remove infected plants. Avoid by improving drainage and over-fertilization.


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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