Marjoram or Oregano?

Marjoram and oregano have been confused with one another since earliest times. Even today, marjoram is often called–and sold under the name of–oregano, and oregano is sometimes known as wild, dwarf or pot marjoram.

My sources say that oregano is generally hardier than marjoram, and lives happily in cooler climes. True to the general contrariness of human nature, cooks in the cooler parts of the world tend to favor marjoram, while oregano tends to be more popular in the warmer zones.

Oregano is what my mother jokingly calls “the secret ingredient” in Italian food, since it seems to be indispensable. It’s also popular in the cooking of the Near East and Greece.

oreganoThere’s so much confusion between marjoram and oregano, I’m starting to wonder which one I have in my planter. According to Waverly Root, though, marjoram is vulnerable to frost, and my plant seems to be immortal. Also, marjoram has to be crushed to release its scent and my plant just has to be gently rubbed. So I think that what I have is oregano.

I think.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character thinks they have a certain thing, but then wonders.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Marjoram or Oregano?

  1. Dan Antion

    August 31, 2016 at 7:52am

    Do they have a similar flavor? I mostly just eat what they put in front of me.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 31, 2016 at 8:29am

      Some varieties of one are similar to some varieties of the other. The oregano I grow doesn’t taste much like the marjoram I buy. The more I read about the two, the more I just close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears, and go, “La la la, nobody’s listeninggggggg.”

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  2. Joey

    August 31, 2016 at 10:50am

    Hm. I had no idea. I’m not big on oregano. I generally use that generic blend of Spice Island Italian herbs, and sparingly. I’m BIG on basil in my Italian foods. I can’t say I’ve ever put marjoram in anything. I have no idea what marjoram smells like. Learn me when you know.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      August 31, 2016 at 1:12pm

      Charlie loves marjoram! I always put it in our scrambled eggs and omelets, and usually in soup, too. I think it smells a little like rosemary. But mostly it smells like itself.

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  3. Patricia Stoltey

    August 31, 2016 at 4:20pm

    Oregano is my favorite herb and one of the key ingredients in a good Herbes de Provence. I think I have marjoram in my spice cabinet (probably too ancient to use) but I had no idea it was even remotely related to oregano.

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  4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    September 1, 2016 at 1:39am

    We use a lot of oregano – and I’ve heard of marjoram, but never use it specifically.

    You learn something new every day! I’ll ask the cook-husband if he has thoughts on this.

    Is marjoram one of the things that go in a bouquet garni, the little bag of herbs tossed into French stews and such? I can’t remember what Julia Child’s cookbooks had on that topic.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 2, 2016 at 8:04am

      Alicia, a bouquet garni almost always includes thyme and bay leaf with a variety of other herbs, but marjoram doesn’t seem to be among them. I wonder why? I just know it’s really good in scrambled eggs or an omelet.

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