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Sweet, Sweet Marjoram

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Sweet marjoram is the “sleeper” of the culinary herb garden. It grows quietly among the other herbs, not drawing attention to itself, only to reach the kitchen and blow away the competition. Sweet marjoram has a milder, sweeter flavor that some chefs prefer to the more commonly used oregano. If you grow and cook with herbs, you should definitely have this in your collection.

Sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is a hardy perennial herb able to grow in most climates. This sub-shrub produces a dense cluster of stems 18-24 inches high. The light green oval leaves have a slight downy feeling. The density of the leaves on the stem depends on the amount of direct sunlight the plant receives. Marjoram growing in my full-sun garden has dark colored short stems with leaves tightly clustered together. Another planting in my north-facing shade garden has lighter colored stems with leaves more loosely grouped.

The flowers of this herb give it the secondary name of �knot� marjoram. The flower buds tha appear in summer form tight green clusters that resembled, to our ancestors, the intricately woven knots sometimes used in place of buttons to secure clothes. As the small white flowers open around the edge, the center grows up and forms another row of buds. This process can form a tower of small green seed cases nearly two inches long.

Sweet marjoram is a well-behaved plant you can grow in the herb garden or with other flowering plants. Its performance in the garden is surpassed only by its flavor in the kitchen.