Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexican oregano

I'd never heard of Mexican oregano, but a caller on our Your Day public radio gardening call-in show mentioned it.  She said it was a great plant, and tasty, too, with a delightful sweetness.

Hmm.  I meant to look it up, but didn't.

While cleaning up my office recently (I'm prone to stacks, piles, and unorganized folders of interesting things), I found a clipping about Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Plants and Gardens News, which I receive as a member. (Their publications are wonderful).

It's easy to grow, liking heat, full sun, and fertile soil.  It's not apparently hardy in the Piedmont, being hardy only to Zone 10, but we can apparently overwinter it inside on a south-facing windowsill. The author, Scott Appell, says it's easy to propagate, too, from tip-cuttings, another way to keep it going.

He mentions its culinary qualities, too, and suggests that many cooks prefer it to 'regular' oregano (Origanum spp.)

Lippia isn't even in the Mint family (Lamiaceae), but in the Verbena family (Verbenaceae), but must be chemical cousins in terms of their leaf compounds.

Definitely something to try!

3 comments:

  1. I am not crazy about oregano, but might give this a try to see if I like the taste better...

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  2. You know, I have a recipe for Chili, one of those recipes where you roast your chilis, roast your spices and the grind them, and it calls for Mexican oregano. I couldn't find it, so I used regular oregano. I will have to make another effort to find the Mexican one.

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  3. Lisa, I used to grow it in Austin, zone 8b, so I think it will take some colder weather than they say. It's a pretty little plant, mostly grown for the pink flowers, but also used in Mexican food. Looks vastly different from regular Greek-type oregano!

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