Related entry: Oleum Origani.—Oil of Origanum

The plant Origanum vulgare, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Labiatae.
COMMON NAME: Wild marjoram.

Botanical Source.Origanum vulgare, or Wild marjoram, is a perennial herb, with erect, leafy, hairy, purple, quadrangular, corymbose stems, from 6 inches to 2 feet in height. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, broad-ovate, obtuse, subserrate, hirsute, rounded at the base, green on both sides, sprinkled with resinous dots, and paler beneath; the petioles hairy, and one-fourth as long as the leaves. The flowers are numerous, purplish-white, in smooth, erect, roundish, panicled, and fasciculate spikes, accompanied with ovate, purplish bracts longer than the calyx. Calyx ovate-tubular, striated, with 5 nearly equal teeth, and hairy in the throat. Corolla funnel-shaped, about the length of the calyx, and slightly 2-lipped; upper lip suberect, flat, and emarginate, the lower trifid, with lobes nearly equal. Stamens 4, exserted, somewhat didynamous, with double anthers; stigma bifid and reflexed. Achenia dry and somewhat smooth (G.—W.—L.).

History and Chemical Composition.—Wild marjoram is common to Europe and America. It is found in limestone regions, on dry banks, and in dry fields and woods, flowering from May to October. The whole herb is medicinal, but it is seldom collected, except for the purpose of procuring its volatile oil (see Oleum Origani), on which its virtues depend, and which may be separated by distillation with water. The plant has a strong, peculiar, rather agreeable balsamic odor, and a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, which properties are imparted to alcohol, or boiling water by infusion. This plant contains a bitter body and some tannin.

Action and Medical Uses.—Origanum is gently stimulant, tonic, and emmenagogue. A warm infusion produces diaphoresis, and tends to promote menstruation, when recently suppressed from cold. It is sometimes employed externally in fomentation.

Related Species.Origanum Majorana, Linné (Majorana hortensis, Moench), or Sweet marjoram, possesses properties similar to the above species. It is a native of Portugal, but cultivated in our gardens, and much used in cookery as a seasoning. Its leaves are oval or obovate, obtuse, entire, petiolate, hairy, pubescent, flowers pink-colored, in compact, roundish, pedunculate, terminal spikes, with roundish bracts. It flowers a month earlier than the preceding species. Its odor is stronger and more agreeable, and its taste more camphoraceous (W.). It yields a volatile oil (see Oleum Majoranae, under Oleum Origani). Used in cookery and for the same purposes as origanum.

Origanum creticum, Linné.—South Europe. Leaves pungent and aromatic. Flowers whitish. It yields a volatile oil, used like those above.

Origanum hirtum, Link.—This plant yields an essential oil, often substituted in commerce for the oil of the preceding species (see under Oleum Origani).

Origanum Dictamnus, Linné, Levant.—Deep-purple flowers. Plant pungent and aromatic.

Lippia origanoides, Kunth (Nat. Ord. —Verbenaceae). Mexico. This plant is known among the native Mexicans as origano.

Lippia Mexicana.—An evergreen shrub of Mexico. In ½ to 1 drachm doses a saturated tincture (1 in 4) of the stalks and leaves has been used as a demulcent expectorant.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.