Wild Marjoram

Common name:
Wild Marjoram
Origanum vulgare
Máirtín fiáin
Laminaceae- The Dead-Nettle Family
Flowering period:
Limestone grasslands, rocky pastures, calcareous and sandy soils, roadside verges
Conservation Status:
common throughout the Burren

Brief description

Sweetly scented wild marjoram has upright tufted square red stems, oval leaves and clusters of delicate deep pink flowers. The flowers can be white with green bracts or pink with deep maroon bracts, adding greatly to the beauty this plant. The generic name Origanum means “joy of the mountain”

Noteworthy characteristics

This native wild Irish aromatic plant is common throughout the Burren where beautiful drifts can be seen along roadside verges throughout the late Summer.  Marjoram is surprisingly absent from the Aran Islands.

History and Folklore

Marjoram has a long history of use as a medicinal herb in Ireland, used in the treatment of coughs and colds, catarrh, head colds and associated congestion

It was also used as a digestive tonic. A rubbing oil extracted from Marjoram was used in the treatment of rheumatic pains and joints by our Irish ancestors

Medicinal actions & Uses

Marjoram oil is strongly antiseptic, with potent antibacterial, antiviral  and antifungal properties

A recognised culinary herb used in the flavouring of stews, soups and sauces.  Apple jelly flavoured with marjoram makes a lovely addition to savoury dishes-something I am looking forward to trying out next year

Modern herbalists use marjoram oil to treat toothache aching joints. It is also valued as an important role to play in gut dysbiosis

Other interesting uses

Marjoram was used in dying wool purple and linen red

Eighteenth- century Horsemen used Marjoram oil as a means of calming horses

Personal note

As a young botanist,  I was thrilled when I first discovered this native Irish plant.  With only a limited number  of wild aromatic herbs  in Ireland, wild marjoram was a great personal discovery as not only is it scented but its distribution is more typically  associated with exotic warm places like Greece.  Yet here it was growing wild  in the west of Ireland, on our doorstep, to be enjoyed by all.

Botanical Classification:

Wild Marjoram is occasional throughout Ireland

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