oregano (ərĕgˈənō) [key], name for several herbs used for flavoring food. A plant of the family Labiatae (mint family), Origanum vulgare, also called Spanish thyme and wild marjoram, is the usual source for the spice sold as oregano in the Mediterranean countries and in the United States. Its flavor is similar to that of marjoram but slightly less sweet. In Spain and Italy many other Origanum species are also grown as oregano. A related herb ( Coleus amboinicius ) of the same family, called suganda in its native Indomalaysia, is known as oregano in the Philippines and Mexico, where it is a popular flavoring. Several other herbs also provide spices called oregano, e.g., species of Lippia and Lantana of the verbena family. In all cases the flavoring is made from the dried herbage. Oregano is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Lamiales, family Labiatae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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