162. Origanum Majorana, Linn.—Sweet Knotted Marjoram.
Majorana hortensis, Moench.
Sex. Syst. Didynamia, Gymnospermia.
History.—Fraas [Hist. Plant. Fl. Class. p. 163, 1845.] is of opinion that the αμάκονρ of Theophrastus, [Hist. Plant, lib. vii. cap. 7. ] the σάμφθχος of Dioscorides, [Lib. iii. cap. 47.] and the Amaracam oρ Sampsuchum of Pliny, [Hist. Nat. lib. xxi. cap. 35, ed. Valp.] are identical with our sweet marjoram.
Botany. Gen. Char.—See ante, p. 448.
Sp. Char.—Branches smoothish, racemose-paniculate. Leaves petiolate, oblong-ovate, obtuse, quite entire, on both sides hoary-tomentose. Spikelets oblong, on sessile crowded branchlets. Calyx nearly toothless, cleft anteriorly (Bentham).—Flowers purple or white.
Hab.—Africa and Asia. Cultivated in kitchen gardens.
Properties.—The whole plant (herba majoranae) has a warm aromatic flavour, and a peculiar savoury smell. Its watery infusion is deepened in colour (tannate of iron) by sesquichloride of iron.
Composition.—By distillation the plant yields volatile oil. The other constituents are tannic acid, resin?, bitter matter, and woody fibre.
Oil of Sweet Marjoram (Oleum Majoranae) is pale yellow or brownish, with the strong odour and taste of marjoram.
Physiological Effects.—Tonic and mild stimulant.
Uses.—Principally employed as a sweet herb by the cook. Its powder is sometimes used, either alone or mixed with some other powder, as an errhine. Marjoram tea is occasionally employed as a popular remedy for nervous complaints.