Wild marjoram is a British native perennial growing to about 60cm. The dark purple buds at the top of the stem open to show purple, pink or occasionally white bunches of thyme like flowers. The leaves are long, oval and usually slightly toothed and are sweetly scented. Our native plant is the same species as the Mediterranean herb known as oregano but because it grows in a cooler climate it has a less intense and less earthy smell.
Wild marjoram is a tall herbaceous perennial native of dry, infertile and usually calcareous soils. Habitats include grasslands, hedge banks, road verges and scrub but not pasture as it is vulnerable to grazing. Wild marjoram has limited means of vegetative spread and is strongly reliant upon seed for reproduction; as a consequence it can be lost from non disturbed sites where taller, more vigorous species can grow. However, the plant produces large amounts of seed which remains dormant in the soil allowing it to reappear following fire or physical disturbance. It is also a ready coloniser of bare or sparsely vegetated ground such as quarries. The long roots with numerous root hairs allow Wild marjoram plants to exploit subsoil water in periods of drought.
The flowers of Wild marjoram are particularly attractive to butterflies.
Seed can be sown at any time of the year but the best results are probably achieved from an autumn sowing.