Wild Marjoram

Wild Marjoram is a treat for the insects of Bepton Down.
Wild Marjoram is a treat for the insects of Bepton Down.
Wild Marjoram in bud on Bepton Down.
Wild Marjoram in bud on Bepton Down.

Wild Marjoram

(Origanum vulgare)

This plant needs no introduction to those with a culinary bent as the leaves used in cooking are truly aromatic and are often known as Oregano.

In the United Kingdom it is widespread and locally common in the south but scarce in other areas.  It enjoys dry grasslands and calcareous soils so it is very at home on  Bepton Down.  It is also a plant which provides nectar to a wide variety of insects and it is therefore exceedingly welcome.

It is a perennial standing between 40 – 60cm producing clusters of dense crimson buds on erect reddish, downy stems.  When open these become pink and are 6-8mm long.  They are five-lobed, the lower lip sporting three of these lobes, the central one being longer than the others.  This plant is to be found in flower from July until August.  It only releases its seeds in  winter as they are able to spread further from the mother plant at that time of year.  It also reproduces itself through runners which appear in autumn.  The rootstock is horizontal.

It has short-stalked leaves which are oval and in opposite pairs.  The margins are shallow toothed.

This plant belongs to the Mint family  (Lamiaceae).