The oregano genus has more than 50 species. The ancient Greeks gave it its name, meaning ‘joy of the mountains.’ These fragrant plants grow on steep rocky alkaline hills, filling Mediterranean mountainsides with their joyful cheer and intense scent. Not only has oregano flavored foods for thousands of years, but it also has medicinal uses, from relieving rheumatism and asthma to decongesting stuffy head colds.
Culture: Start indoors in spring for best results. Likes sun and light well-drained alkaline soil. Will lose potency if soil is overfed. Harvest when it is beginning to flower. Zone 4. Survives some, but not all, winters in Zone 3.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neandertals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Herb culture: To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year.
Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
Takinagawa Burdock and Resina Calendula, as well as oats, mammoth red clover and alfalfa in the Farm Seed section, also have medicinal uses. Medicinal herbs such as black cohosh and goldenseal are available as plants, and shipped with Trees in the spring.