Scientific name: Origanum Vulgare

Family: Lamiaceae/Labiate

Common name: Oregano

General Information

Oregano is an aromatic herbaceous perennial and shrubby plant and can be found in the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The maximum height of oregano is 1m. In Greece it is considered the easiest product for cultivation and distribution and has the advantage of growing almost everywhere, with a lifespan of at least six years. It’s a pretty impressive plant with white flowers. The leaves are green to gray-green and may be hairy or smooth. The Origanum vulgare species is the most common in Greece. It belongs to the family Lamiaceae or Labiatae. The oregano plants in Greece belong to more than one species . All these have the same characteristic “oregano” odor which allows us to call them all with the same common name.
These species are Origanum vulgare (Greek oregano), Coridothymus capitatus (Spanish oregano), Origanum onites (Turkish oregano)and Satureja thymbra. But even within the same species significant morphological and chemical differences can be found, something that results in separating each species in at least three subspecies:

• Origanum vulgare ssp.
• hirtum or heracleoticum,
• Origanum vulgare ssp.
• Viridulum
• Origanum vulgare ssp.
• vulgare

Oregano cultivations can be found in Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly in Greece. Greece and Germany have the largest oregano cultivations in EU. The oregano production of Greece is mainly exported to the United States and Germany.

Cultivation Techniques

The excellent growth temperature for oregano ranges from 18-22 ° C with growth rates of 4 to 33 ° C, while the root system of well-developed plants show durability to extreme temperatures. It survives at low levels of lighting, but to achieve a high content of essential oils, light is necessary. Oregano is a native plant which can be found in many areas of Greece. It grows in a great variety of soils, with good drainage and ph values 6-7. Oregano has low needs in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with fertilization applied at the end of autumn to early winter. Oregano can resist in drought conditions. Oregano is mainly propagated by seed or by division of plants taken from old plantations. It can also be propagated with grafts. The establishment of the cultivation can be done either autumn or spring.


Yields and quality characteristics

The quality of oregano is largely determined from the ingredient carvacrol, located in oregano oil, and ranges from 70 to 85%, while in native populations may overcome 90%. It should be noted that the yield of oregano oil and the percentage of carvacrol are related to the cultivated population, variety, or clone, climate, soil, altitude, and culture conditions (irrigation, fertilization, etc). The oregano plants’ production is sufficient from the third year , and can reach up to 300 kg per acre (irrigated crop). The content of oregano oil can reach up to 7% while the average rates range to 3-4%. An average efficiency can reach 500 kg per acre in green form. The efficiency of the dry product can reach 100 kg per acre.

Health benefits

Oregano beyond the characteristic aroma and flavor that leaves on the food has many pharmaceutical benefits ,due to the main active ingredient carvacrol. Carvacrol is antidiarrheal, antiinflammatory, antibacterial. The oregano beverage can be used against the weakness of the intestines, against cough and helps in hypertension and arteriosclerosis. The essential oil of oregano (origanelaio) is used against toothache. Oregano has 12 times more antioxidant activity than orange, 30 from potato and 42 from the apple. Oregano is also a great source of vitamin C and K, which is essential for blood clotting, and contains smaller amounts of Vitamin A. Dietary fiber reduces cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood therefore oregano is used in cooking of fatty meats. Oregano also helps muscle pains and rheumatism. It has an antimicrobial action, is antispasmodic, combats tiredness, asthma and dysmenorrhea.

Oregano on our balcony!

Oregano is very easy to be planted in the balcony and the garden. It reaches a height of 50 cm and blooms from May to September with white, pink or purple blossoms. It is resistant to cold but grows even better in hot and dry climates. Oregano needs lots of sun and soil with good drainage.
There are no special needs for fertilizer. The water needs vary depending on the season and weather conditions.

Caution, not to wet the leaves when watering!