Marjoram: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about marjoram

Origanum majorana is a member of the Lamiaceae family. It is an aromatic bushy sub-shrub that typically grows in an upright mound to 1-2 feet tall. Marjoram has branching, square stems that are reddish in color and densely clad with ovate, pubescent, gray-green leaves approximately 1 ¼ inches in length. These leaves are highly aromatic.

Marjoram blooms from mid-to-late summer and is not particularly showy. It has tiny, two-lipped, tubular, white or pale pink flowers with gray-green bracts in spike-like clusters.

Marjoram is widely cultivated as an annual culinary herb; its leaves are milder and provide a more delicate flavor than those of perennial oregano (Origanum vulgare). Marjoram is often considered lighter and sweeter.

common names & nomenclature
The name marjoram—in Old French majorane, and Medieval Latin majorana— actually does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).

Also known as:
knotted marjoram, marjorana hortensis, sweet marjoram, marjoram, majorana majorana

Marjoram, the companion herb
Marjoram: Where in the World
habitat and range for marjoram

The Marjoram plant is indigenous to Cyprus and southern Turkey.

Marjoram: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting marjoram

Marjoram thrives on sunny dry slopes and rocky places, though occasionally it will grow in partial shade.

This plant is not fussy as to soil type, though typically it is grown in rather dry, warm, well-drained environments, thriving on chalky soils.

Sow seed in early spring with temperatures around 50-55°F. Only just cover the seed, and expect germination usually within 2 - 4 weeks. When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent locations in early summer. Divide in March or October.

Harvest marjoram just as it begins flowering. Use either fresh or dried. If drying, do so slowly and in shade for best results.

Store dried marjoram in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Marjoram: The Rest of the Story
marjoram history, folklore, literature & more

Marjoram is usually considered a culinary spice, the ancient Greeks believed marjoram was first cultivated by Aphrodite, goddess of love, who's touch produced its fragrant aroma. Greek couples wore marjoram wreaths at their weddings. The Greeks also believed that if a girl placed marjoram in her bed, Aphrodite would visit her dreams and reveal the identity of her future spouse. Today in parts of Europe, girls who want to get married may place marjoram sprigs in their hope chests.

In its native Spain, Portugal, and North Africa, O. majorana is a perennial. But it's grown as an annual in North America.

Marjoram is a hairy plant with square purplish stems. The leaves are small and oval. Its white, pin, or lavender flowers bloom in late summer and cluster close together in knots, hence the name knotted marjoram.

Once marjoram's tiny, slow-germinating seeds sprout, the plant grows easily. For best results, germinate it indoors, then transplant it outdoors after danger of frost has passed. Marjoram grows best under full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Pinch the flowers buds back to increase bushiness and leaf yield.