Origanum majorana L.
Lamiaceae (sin. Labiatae)
History and Origins
In ancient Egypt it was the secret plant of Osiris. For the Greeks and Romans it was a symbol of happiness.
It has been cultivated in Europe since the fourteenth century.
The essence is rich in carvacrol, rosmarinic acid and Vitamin C.
The content of the essence is highest at the beginning of flowering and in the apical leaves.
Used a great deal in the kitchen as an aromatic plant, and as an ingredient in vermouth and herbal liqueurs.
The therapeutic properties are sedative, antispasmodic, tonic-stimulant, diaphoretic (promotes sweating).
For external use, it is used in an anti-rheumatic rub.
The scent of marjoram is sweeter and spicier than oregano, which is fresher and more pungent.
Diffusion and importance
France, Hungary, Spain, Egypt, Greece, Mexico and Turkey are the main cultivators.
Biologic type: perennial, evergreen, standing erect; grown as an annual or biennial. It remains in cultivation for 4-5 years.
Stem: erect, pubescent and quadrangular in shape, 25-60 cm high.
Leaves: small, opposite, oval, hairy, green-gray. The essential oil is contained in the glandular hairs of the epidermis.
Inflorescence: spike-like that consists of 7-9 pseudo-whorls carried on secondary bracts, white flowers with purple hues. In Italy it blooms from June to September.
Fruit: tetra-achene; 1000 achenes (“seeds”) weighing 0.2-0.4 g, germination ability: 2-3 years.
Climate and Soil Requirements
It prefers sun and warmth. The minimum temperature for germination is 12-15° C, the optimal 20-22° C; in optimal conditions it germinates in 5-6 days. The base temperature for growth (zero vegetation) is 10° C; the initial growth is generally slow. After 35 – 45 days from emergence, it begins to branch out. The summer bloom lasts about one month. After cutting, it regrows and reflowers.
It adapts to different types of soil but prefers generally loose soils.
Fundamentals of cultivation techniques
It can be sown directly in the field or transplanted to rows 30 to 40 cm apart with a planting density of 30-35 plants/m².
Direct seeding is done in March, using 5-6 kg / ha of seed; transplantation is carried out in April-May.
Marjoram can also be propagated from cuttings and from plant division. The propagation from cuttings takes place in June; 8-10 cm long cuttings are taken from basal shoots of a non-flowering healthy vigorous plant. The propagation from plant division takes place in March or October.
It is necessary to fertilize with a good amount of potassium in the basal dressing (120-140 kg / ha). The amount of nitrogen required is 150-180 kg / ha and should be split 50% at planting or during spring growth, and 50% after the first cut.
A topping is done in the first year to encourage greater development of the root system, to enlarge the head, and to have yields which are higher and more constant.
Immediately after harvest the branches must be dried, then the leaves and inflorescences must be separated from the stems.