MARJORAM herb has a pleasant odor and the EO has a similar chemistry to Tea Tree oil (terpenine-4-ol); thus has anti-bacterial properties useful in hair and skincare. It is a valuable addition in massage blends to ease muscular aches and pains. Historically the leaves were used as a tea for hysterics and in foods to reduce an overactive sex drive.

a Sweeter cousin to Oregano

By Jeanne Rose

Marjoram plant and 3 types of Marjoram oil • photos by JeanneRose
Marjoram and 3 types of Marjoram oil • photos by JeanneRose

Common Name/Latin binomial ~ Marjoram is officially known as Origanum majorana.

Family ~ Lamiaceae

Marjoram Other Names and background ~ also called pot marjoram, Majorana hortensis (knotted Marjoram), O. majoranoides.
The genus Origanum consists of over 44 species, 6 subspecies, 3 botanical varieties and 18 naturally occurring hybrids, and includes several types of Oregano as well as sweet Marjoram (O. majorana) and dittany of Crete (O. dictamnus). Plants known and used as Marjoram sometimes do not necessarily belong to the genus Origanum, however.

Countries of Origin or Habitats of Marjoram ~ It is indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula and several middle Eastern countries and is thought to have spread to the British Isles during the Middle ages (500-1500 A.D.)

Endangered ~ not endangered

Marjoram General Description of Plant habitat and Growth ~ It is a cold sensitive, aromatic, perennial herb growing to over one foot high, with a downy stem and small, silver-green downy leaves with tiny, pinkish white flowers. Other plants are called Marjoram and even Thyme (make sure you are getting what you want). Marjoram prefers dry slopes and rocky places and in hot area and partial shade. Flower formation depends upon the photoperiod, blue light encourages more compact growth.

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Marjoram is either steam-distilled or carbon dioxide extract. Various methods have various yields.

            Yield ~ 1.8% from the CO2 of the leaves and less from the SD of leaves and flowers. “Essential oil yield of marjoram shoots was 0.12% in the control and 0.10% at 50 mM  ….”2.

Photo of Sweet Marjoram by JeanneRose 2005 in S.F. Botanical Garden
Marjoram in the SF Botanical Garden – photo by JeanneRose 2005

Organoleptics of several Marjoram

 Marjoram #305Marjoram #0147Marjoram CO2 #337
ColorcolorlessSlight yellow tingeYellow-gold
TasteBitter, aromaticVery bitter, aromaticBitter, umami
Tenacity in blend good good best

Marjoram Scent Description ~ Odor is herbaceous, green and woody.  

CO2 is different than the steam-distilled type. The combination of high pressure and low temperatures encourages the plant material to release its aromatic components completely so that the oil has both the herbal as well as aromatic profile and has a stronger, deeper, richer odor with more nuance than the steam-distilled.

Using the Basic 7 format and describing the scent of the three example oils listed.
Using the Basic 7 format and describing the scent of the three example oils listed.

Chemical Components  ~Terpinene-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, alpha-terpinene, cineol, linalool, sabinene, and paracymene. Components ~ “Origanum majorana (marjoram) oil was constituted of hydrocarbons (42.1%), alcohols (24.3%), and phenols (14.2%). Water-distilled essential oils of Origanum majorana L. collected from two localities in Turkey were analyzed by GC and GC/MS. Carvacrol (78.27–79.46%) was found to be the major component in both oils.* The Marjoram oil of Reunion Island was found to be rich in terpinen-4-ol (38.4%), cis-sabinene hydrate (15.0%), p-cymene (7.0%) and γ-terpinene (6.9%).”1 Major elements included terpinene-4-ol (Tea tree), gamma-terpinene, cis-sabinene, and sabinene, and others.



Analgesic, antispasmodic, vasodilator, vulnerary, antiseptic, antibiotic, and anti-infectious.

External Application of  Marjoram oil ~ It is a mild external antiseptic with a pleasant scent. The oils of both O. majorana and O. vulgare are used commercially to scent soaps, lotions and colognes. Marjoram is used in skincare lotions and creams for added benefit in toning and firming. It is used in blends for bruises and in massage for muscle spasms and for relaxation.

            External Application of Marjoram CO2 ~Origanum majorana also has medicinal and cosmetic uses, such as in bath oils and sachets to help relieve aches and stiff joints. The COtype is best in skin care as it is gentle but still anti-bacterial

Inhalation of Marjoram oil ~ The oil is Inhaled for dyspnea, colds, bronchitis, respiratory infections, head congestion, circulation, cardiovascular disease, migraine headaches, and some seizures.                

Emotional Uses (AP or IN) ~  Marjoram is used in inhalation blends to reduce tension, anxiety, and  insomnia, for calming, and both herb and oil is used in products or inhaled to reduce feelings of grief (with Frankincense), oppression (with Lavender and Atlas Cedar) , stress and irritability, sighing, and sometimes-overactive sex drive.

Emotional Blend  ~ Calming inner Chatter & Feelings of Oppression
Any amount of each oil, mixed together, and inhaled
Atlas Cedar
Marjoram, Sweet

Properties of the Marjoram Hydrosol ~ The hydrosol of Marjoram is very useful as a spray to clean the home; to take by the teaspoonful  in water for a cold or flu or to ‘head’ one off; to use as a gargle or mouthwash for sore throat; to add to  washing waters as an application to cleanse dirty wounds; and many other applications.

Herbal Uses ~ from Herbs & Things  and other material: Both Oregano and Marjoram have been used in folk medicine to treat colds, coughs, gastrointestinal problems and a variety of other conditions, and several plants in the genus especially those high in the phenol carvacrol have  antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.  

       Both of these plants have also been used to make dyes. the leaves and flowers of sweet  Marjoram, O. vulgare and O. onites can be included in potpourris. Marjoram also has medicinal and cosmetic uses, such as in bath oils and sachets to help relieve aches and stiff joints. The dried flowers are used for fragrance in potpourris and perfumes. But Marjoram tends to be better when used fresh.
______Ingestion of Marjoram herb:  The herb tea or herb in products is used as a slight diuretic, digestive, antispasmodic, and carminative for the gut. 

Blending Marjoram for Perfumery or for Purpose ~ As with other herbaceous oils of this family, Marjoram makes lovely blends with Citrus of all kinds, Spices and Woods, and conifers such as Fir and Pine and Rose Geranium, Rosemary and roots such as Vetivert. Use sweet Marjoram in perfumery to a warm herbal note, use the Marjoram CO2 for the more therapeutic blends for massage skincare. Everyone has their favorite uses and mine is in clay facials, hand sanitizers, and cleansing toners or in inhalation blends for sleeping and in massage blends as an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving palliative.

Culinary ~ Oregano and Marjoram are essential ingredients in Greek, Italian and French cuisine  Flowers have a flavor similar to the leaves and  can be a flavorful and decorative addition to vegetables, salads and other foods. Leaf flavor is usually best before flowers bloom. Marjoram is a popular herb (fresh or dried) for seasoning soups, sauces, salads, stuffing, stews, roasts, vegetables and meats. Fresh leaves do not freeze as well as Oregano leaves. Dried leaves are sometimes added to potpourris.

 Sweet Marjoram  has a mild, sweet flavor that compliments and flavor many foods and especially in poultry seasonings.  Marjoram is more often used in recipes of French or English origin. Its sweeter, milder flavor works in cheese, tomato, bean and egg dishes, salad dressings, seafood sauces, and on poultry.

Key Uses ~ Oil of Pain Relief

3 Marjoram oils on 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols
3 Marjoram Oils on book, 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols

Historical Interest of Marjoram ~   Marjoram also enjoys a long and favorable history. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans would crown bridal couples with wreaths of Marjoram to symbolize love, honor and happiness. Over the years, marjoram has been used as a remedy to aid digestion. Marjoram and Oregano continue to be used as a steam inhalant to clear the sinuses and relieve laryngitis. European singers have been known to preserve their voices with Marjoram tea sweetened with honey. According to herbalist Dodoen, in the 16th century, smelling marjoram “mundifieth (cleanses) the brayne.

References ~
1. Food Chemistry. Volume 66, Issue 2, August 1999, Pages 143-145. Chemical composition of the essential oil of marjoram (Origanum majorana L.) from Reunion Island

2. Salt effects on the growth, mineral nutrition, essential oil yield and composition of marjoram (Origanum majorana) by Olfa Baatour, (and others), Acta Physiologiae Plantarum volume 32, Article number: 45 (2010) 

Bibliography ~
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
Rose, Jeanne. Aromatherapy Course – Home & Family. printing 2015.
Rose,  Jeanne. Herbs &Things. Last Gasp. 2002
Rose, Jeanne. Hydrosols & Aromatic Waters, 2015

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

Cautions & Precautions for plants and their parts.
Cautions and Precautions
3 bottles of marjoram oil showing color and and product number
Three Marjoram oils

2 thoughts on “Marjoram

  1. Pingback: OREGANO | JeanneRose-blog

  2. Pingback: Thyme | JeanneRose-blog

Thank you for reading and your comments.