Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Origanum
Species: O. majorana
Binomial name
Origanum majorana
Bottle of Majoram spice

Marjoram (Origanum majorana, Lamiaceae) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. In some Middle-eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum.

The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).[2] Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.



Considered a tender perennial (USDA Zones 7-9), [3] marjoram can sometimes prove hardy even in zone 5.

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as herbes de Provence and za'atar. The flowering leaves and tops of marjoram are steam-distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor and pinene.

Related species

Oregano (Origanum vulgare, sometimes listed with marjoram as Origanum majorana) is also called wild marjoram. It is a perennial common in southern Europe in dry copses and on hedge-banks, with many stout stems 30–80 cm high, bearing short-stalked, somewhat ovate leaves and clusters of purple flowers. It has a stronger flavor than marjoram.

Pot marjoram or Cretan oregano (Origanum onites) has similar uses to marjoram.

Hardy marjoram or French marjoram, a cross of marjoram with oregano, is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet. Origanum pulchellumis known as showy marjoram or showy oregano.


  1. ^ "Origanum majorana information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  2. ^ Marjoram, Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, November 2001
  3. ^ Learn 2 Grow: Origanum majorana

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Marjoram — Mar jo*ram (m[aum]r j[ o]*ram), n. [OE. majoran, F. marjolaine, LL. marjoraca, fr. L. amaracus, amaracum, Gr. ama rakos, ama rakon.] (Bot.) A genus of mintlike plants ({Origanum}) comprising about twenty five species. The sweet marjoram… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • marjoram — ► NOUN 1) (also sweet marjoram) an aromatic plant of the mint family, used as a herb in cooking. 2) (also wild marjoram) another term for OREGANO(Cf. ↑oregano). ORIGIN Latin majorana …   English terms dictionary

  • marjoram — [mär′jə rəm] n. [ME majoran < OFr majorane < ML maiorana, prob. altered < L amaracus < Gr amarakos, marjoram: of Indic orig., akin to Sans maruva ] any of a number of perennial plants of the mint family, esp. sweet marjoram …   English World dictionary

  • marjoram — late 14c., from O.Fr. majorane (13c., Mod.Fr. marjolaine), from M.L. maiorana, of uncertain origin, probably ultimately from India (Cf. Skt. maruva marjoram ), with form influenced by L. major greater …   Etymology dictionary

  • Marjoram —   [ mɑːdʒərəm], J., Pseudonym des englischen Schriftstellers Ralph Hale Mottram …   Universal-Lexikon

  • marjoram — /mahr jeuhr euhm/, n. any of several aromatic herbs belonging to the genus Origanum, of the mint family, esp. O. majorana (sweet marjoram), having leaves used as seasoning in cooking. Cf. oregano. [1350 1400; ME majorane < ML majorana, var. of… …   Universalium

  • Marjoram — Recorded in many forms including Margeram, Margram, Margarum, Margrem, and Marjoram, this is an English surname. It has been claimed that in England it originates from the region known as East Anglia and more specifically the county of Norfolk,… …   Surnames reference

  • marjoram — [ mα:dʒ(ə)rəm] noun 1》 (also sweet marjoram) an aromatic southern European plant of the mint family, the leaves of which are used as a herb. [Origanum majorana.] 2》 (also wild marjoram) another term for oregano. Origin ME: from OFr. majorane,… …   English new terms dictionary

  • marjoram — mar•jo•ram [[t]ˈmɑr dʒər əm[/t]] n. pln any of several aromatic herbs of the mint family, esp. Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram), having leaves used as a seasoning. • Etymology: 1350–1400; < ML majorana, var. of majoraca, alter. of L amāracus …   From formal English to slang

  • marjoram — n. either of two aromatic herbs, Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram) or Majorana hortensis (sweet marjoram), the fresh or dried leaves of which are used as a flavouring in cookery. Etymology: ME & OF majorane f. med.L majorana, of unkn. orig …   Useful english dictionary

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