Greek name and pronunciation:
At the market:
Caution: Not all oreganos are equal. Greek oregano (rigani) is a subspecies with the latin name Origanum vulgare (previously Origanum heracleoticum or Oreganum heraclites). Look at oregano package labeling to identify it.
Origin, History, and Mythology:
The name "oregano" means "joy of the mountain" and has its origins in the ancient Greek "oros" (mountain) and "ganos" (joy).
According to Greek mythology, the sweet, spicy scent of oregano was created by the goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. In ancient Greece, bridal couples were crowned with garlands of oregano. Oregano plants were placed on tombs to give peace to departed spirits. It was also used as a laxative because of its cathartic effect.
Oregano's power to heal has been known for centuries. It has powerful bacteria and fungi killing properties. It is used as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Oregano tea is a treatment for indigestion, coughs, and to stimulate menstruation. The oil of oregano is used for toothache, and in some cosmetics. The leaves and flowering stems are natural antiseptics because of high thymol content.
Latin names for some of the oregano subspecies:
- Origanum vulgare, "Wild Marjoram," "Greek oregano"
- Origanum onites, "Italian oregano"
- Origanum heracleoticum/heraclites, previous name for "Greek Oregano"
- Lippia graveolens, "Mexican oregano," also known as Mexican marjoram or Mexican wild sage, not a true oregano
- Origanum vivens, "Spanish oregano"
- Origanum majorana, "Sweet marjoram"