Wild Marjoram, Origanium vulgare. Generally distributed over Asia, Europe and North Africa; grows freely in England, being particularly abundant in the south-eastern counties. The name Origanum is derived from two Greek words, oros (mountain) and ganos (joy), in allusion to the gay appearance these plants give to the hillsides on which they grow. It is a perennial herb, with creeping roots, sending up woody stems about a foot high, branched above, often purplish.
Marjoram has an extensive use for culinary purposes, as well as in medicine, but it is the cultivated species that are employed in cookery as a seasoning. They are little used for medicinal purposes for which the Wild Marjoram is employed.
Wild Marjoram has a very ancient medical reputation. The Greeks used it extensively, both internally and externally for a remedy for narcotic poisons, convulsions and dropsy. Among the Greeks, if Marjoram grew on a grave, it augured the happiness of the departed, and among both the Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to crown young couples with Marjoram.
The whole plant has a strong, peculiar, fragrant, balsamic odour and a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, both of which properties are preserved when the herb is dry. The 'swete margerome' was so much prized before the introduction of various foreign perfumes that, as Parkinson tells us, 'swete bags,' 'swete powders' and 'swete washing water' made from this plant were widely used.