Oregano is a robust herb that is both complex and strongly aromatic- its scent is described as a bit camphoraceous. There are so many plants called oregano that some have suggested that oregano be considered a flavor rather than a specific species. Nonetheless, in most kitchens there are two types of oregano that are the most often used – the more popular is Origanum vulgare which is a member of the Lamiaceae family (mint) and is commonly known as Mediterranean oregano, true oregano, or Greek oregano. The other is Lippia graveolens, or Mexican oregano, a member of the Verbenaceae family.
Mediterranean Oregano is closely related to marjoram and is similar in taste. In fact, oregano means marjoram in Spanish and so the two are often confused in recipes written in Spanish. Oregano grows throughout Europe and Asia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and here in the US in both California and New Mexico.
Mediterranean Oregano has an essential oil with a color that ranges from yellowish red to a dark brown. The essential oil is about 1.0% to 2%, and that is mostly made up of phenols and monoterpene hydrocarbons.
Oregano is called tawabul in Arabic, Niú zhì in Mandarin, Origan in French, Oregano in German, ajavaayan kee pattee in Hindi, origano in Italian, Oregano in Japanese, orégano in Portuguese and Spanish and oregano in Russian.