The common Marjoram (Origanum) grows frequently as a wild

labiate plant on dry, bushy places, especially in chalky districts

throughout Britain, the whole herb being fragrantly aromatic, and

bearing flowers of a deep red colour. When cultivated in our kitchen

gardens it becomes a favourite pot herb, as Sweet Marjoram, with

thin compact spikes, and more elliptical leaves than the wild

Marjoram. Its generic title, Origan
m, means in Greek, the joy of

the mountains (oros-ganos) on which it grows.

This plant and the Pennyroyal are often called Organ. Its dried

leaves are put as a pleasant condiment into soups and stuffings,

being also sometimes substituted for tea. Together with the

flowering tops they contain an essential volatile fragrant oil, which

is carminative, warming, and tonic. An infusion made from the fresh

plant will excellently relieve nervous headaches by virtue of the

camphoraceous principle [332] contained in the oil; and externally

the herb may be applied with benefit in bags as a hot fomentation to

painful swellings and rheumatism, as likewise for colic. Organy,

says Gerard, is very good against the wambling of the stomacke,

and stayeth the desire to vomit, especially at sea. It may be used to

good purpose for such as cannot brooke their meate.

The sweet Marjoram has also been successfully employed externally

for healing scirrhous tumours of the breast. Murray says: Tumores

mammarum dolentes scirrhosos herba recens, viridis, per tempus

applicata feliciter dissipavit. The essential oil, when long kept,

assumes a solid form, and was at one time much esteemed for being

rubbed into stiff joints. The Greeks and Romans crowned young

couples with Marjoram, which is in some countries the symbol of

honour. Probably the name was originally, Majoram, in Latin,

Majorana. Our forefathers scoured their furniture with its odorous

juice. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act v, Scene 5, we read:--

The several chairs of order look you scour

With juice of balm, and every precious flower.