Marjoram: cultivation, properties and benefits of marjoram
Marjoram is a herbaceous plant, perennial in its places of origin, native to East African and Central Asia and does not grow spontaneously in Europe but is only cultivated.Any spontaneous plants that can be found are those that have escaped cultivation.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram belongs to the Lamiaceae family and its scientific name is Origanum majorana also known as Majoranahortensis.
They are herbaceous plants, perennial in their places of origin, bushy, originating in north-eastern Africa and central Asia. Unlike its close relative, oregano (Origanumvulgare), do not grow wild in Europe but are only cultivated. Any spontaneous plants that can be found are those that have "escaped" cultivation.
The stem marjoram is erect, quadrangular, up to 60 cm high, branched and reddish in the upper part and covered with a thick down.
There root it is a rhizome with numerous rootlets that does not go too deep into the ground.
The leaves they are small, oval, with smooth margins, provided with a short petiole, covered with a dense down which gives them a very velvety appearance.
THE flowers pinkish-white in color, they are collected in spikes, with concave bracts and are hermaphrodites with entomophilous pollination, mainly bees and butterflies
The fruit it is an oval capsule that has a dark color when ripe.
The whole marjoram plant gives off a strong characteristic aromatic scent.
Marjoram is often confused with oregano (Origanum vulgare of the same family) as the appearance is very similar but the taste and aroma is very different as it does not contain the essential oils of oregano.
CULTURAL TECHNIQUE OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram despite being a perennial plant is grown in Europe as an annual as it has no tolerance for low temperatures. Only in its places of origin is it perennial.
To grow at its best and give all its aroma it must develop in the sun, in the heat and in the air.
WATERING OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram prefers dry soils, it should be watered little and often taking care not to soak the soil and not to leave water stagnations that are not tolerated.The greatest water demands are had when the seedling is still young and during flowering.
TYPE OF LAND - REPOT OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram is a plant that easily adapts to any type of soil, even poor ones, even if it prefers soils with an alkaline reaction, permeable and dry with a good dose of organic substance.
It does not tolerate humid soils, especially in winter, especially if associated with too low temperatures.
FERTILIZATION OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram plants are very rustic and do not require particular fertilization.At the plant a complete fertilization is done with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
FLOWERING OF THE MAJORANA
The marjoram blooms from July to September and the seeds ripen from August to September.
MULTIPLICATION OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram multiply by seed, by cutting or by division of the plant.
Multiplication by seed has the disadvantage that, when genetic variability takes over, you are not sure that you will have plants that are the same as the mother plants, in which case if you want to obtain a very specific marjoram plant and you are not sure of the quality of the seed that you are using, it is good to do the multiplication by cutting or by division of the mother plant.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
If you plan to sow in pots or seedbeds, the marjoram seeds are sown in early spring in a compost formed in equal parts of fertile soil and sand. Since the seeds are small, to bury them slightly, push them under the soil using a flat piece of wood or you can pour over the new soil.The tray containing the seeds should be kept in the shade, at a temperature around 10-13 ° C and is It is essential that the soil is constantly humid (use a sprayer to completely moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.
The tray must be covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or with a glass plate) which will guarantee a good temperature and avoid too rapid drying of the soil. The plastic sheet must be removed every day to check the degree of humidity in the soil and to remove the condensation that forms on the plastic.Once the seeds have germinated (usually after two - four weeks), the plastic sheet is removed and move the cassette to a brighter position (not direct sun).Among all the plants born, there will certainly be those less vigorous than others. Identify and eliminate them in this way you will guarantee more space for the most robust plants.
Once the marjoram seedlings are large enough to be manipulated (5-6 cm) they are transplanted into the final arrangement.
If you plan to sow directly in the field or in the garden, it is necessary to work the soil in order to eliminate the superficial crust and make it at least compact and uniform and to make a bottom manure.
It is sown in spring starting from April taking care not to bury the seeds excessively and arranging them so that the plants are then spaced by about 30-50cm both on the row and between the rows.
Marjoram seeds placed directly in the open field have a slow germination.
If you transplant seedlings grown in seedbeds, the transplant must be done in April-May.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
The multiplication of the marjoram by cutting takes place in June. The cuttings must be 8-10 cm long from the non-flowering basal shoots and must be taken from a healthy and vigorous plant. They should be planted in a mixture of peat and sand and kept in a cool greenhouse (about 10 ° C) until they are rooted after which, as soon as they have rooted, they can be transplanted.
The multiplication of marjoram by division of the plant takes place in March or October. It would be preferable to keep the young seedlings in a cool place until they have taken root and then be transplanted to their final location in late spring or early summer.
AROMATIC PROPERTIES OF THE MAJORANA
The aromatic properties of marjoram are given by its essential oils mainly made up of: terpinene, cis-sabinene, p-cymene and gamma-terpinene. Furthermore, marjoram is also rich in vitamin C, tannins and rosmarinic acid.
COLLECTION AND STORAGE OF THE MAJORANA
The flowering tops and leaves of the marjoram are used, which are collected at the beginning of flowering by cutting them with all the branches.
The twigs with marjoram flowers and leaves should be dried as soon as they are harvested, as quickly as possible hung upside down in dry, dark and airy places so that they do not lose their characteristics. Once dried, the leaves and flowers must be recovered, crumbled and stored in glass jars.
Marjoram, unlike oregano, loses much of its aroma with drying, so it is preferable to consume it fresh or frozen.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF THE MAJORANA
You see:Medicinal plants: marjoram
USE IN THE KITCHEN OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram has an aroma very similar to that of oregano but much more dolceed is highly sought after in the kitchen to flavor meat, fish, vegetables and soups.As it is a plant that loses its aroma with drying, it is good to use it fresh. adding it at the end of cooking.
With the leaves, fresh or dried, of marjoram, a delicious tea is prepared that remembers a mixture of thyme, rosemary and sage as a fragrance.
CURIOSITY OF THE MAJORANA
Marjoram was introduced in Europe most likely thanks to Crusaders.
A synonym of marjoram is Amaracus majorana or Majorana hortensisor Origanum amaracus. This strange name is linked to an ancient Greek legend according to which Amaraco, an officer of the house of Cinira, king of Cyprus, had the task of looking after perfumes. One day a vase that contained the essence of the majority broke and so great was his pain that he died. The gods, moved by so much dedication, transformed it into the homonymous plant hence the name.
The Latins called this plant mazurana (from which the Italian marjoram would be derived),
Bartolomeo Platina in his De honesta voluptate et valetudine ( Honest pleasure and good health, translation Emilio Faccioli, Giulio Einaudi editore, 1985) writes: "... Dioscorides says that the Romans called it lost. She cultivated in two ways, with the seed and with the cutting. In the latter it is more aromatic and more fragrant. Marjoram is hot and dry, freeing the nostrils and eliminating glutinous humors from the head. Chopped in vinegar and spread on the bites of the scorpions it gives relief to those who are affected ».
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS AND PLANTS
You see: Marjoram - The language of flowers and plants