Oregano

Origanum vulgar ssp vulgare
'Dr. Ietswaart'
Golden Oregano


"The cabbage
Dedicated itself
To trying on skirts,
The oregano
To perfuming the world."

-Pablo Neruda
(1904-1973)

   

This oregano cultivar was purchased years back with the name "Dr. Letswaart" clearly printed on the fancy-dancy full-color nursery tag. But that was a typographical error resulting from a common misreading of "Ietswaart" which has a capital "I" not an "L," which would mean it is named after J. H. Ietswaart, who has written a good deal on the topic of oregano & marjoram.

OreganoAn attractive groundcover with wrinkly yellow or yellow-green leaves clumps five to eight inches tall. Summer flowers are palest pink on twelve-inch stems, most numerous in August. As an ornamental it is a first-rate edging plant. As a culinary herb it has a mild pleasant flavor either fresh for salads, cooked in soups or cassaroles or stir-fry, or dried & crumbled for use out of season.

Easily propagated from cuttings or by division, it wants well-drained moderately fertile soil in full sun & not too droughty. It's cold-hardy at minus 20 to minus 10 degrees F.

It has become our standard oregano for pan-fried breakfasts, pot-boiled soups, & cassaroles. We've planted many oreganos over the years, but this one returns every year vibrant & fresh, tasty as can be, & recovers so quickly from sheering a bit off it every day for the kitchen that it never looks bitten into.

Oregano is one of the most important culinary herbs to come out of the Mediterranean region. A spice arsenal with nothing but oregano & basil could well be sufficient to make any cook seem a genius. It is a true healthfood rich in antioxidants, the plant's essential oils having antimicrobial & antifungal components, besides simply looking good & tasting good.

But oregano's legacy is not entirely pure of heart, for it has also been used in herbal combinations to abort unwanted pregnancies, either eaten in great quantities or prepared as a tonic taken several times a day to induce miscarriage. A South American abortant called Carachipita, available over-the-counter, contains pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), yerba de la perdiz (Margiricarpus pinnatus), oregano (Origanum vulgare), & guaycuri or marsh rosemary (Statice brasiliensis).

In the United States Carachipita is obtainable over the internet, or nearly identical equivalents are prepared by herbalists & homeopathic poisoners. It is sold under the pretence that it corrects irregular menstrual cycles & is healthful for the uterus & ovaries. This pretended value helps alternative-medicine practitioners avoid deserved imprisonment even while the actual purpose is to end pregnancies without qualified medical oversight, threatening the life of the mother.

Piligan or Cola de quirquincho (Lycopodium saururus), parsley (Petroselinum hortense), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), celery (Apium graveolens), floripan (Datura arborea), sticky nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifolium), leopard's bane (Arnica montana), burdock/bardana root (Arctium lappa), & ruda or fringed rue (Ruta chalepensis/graveolens) are likewise used with surprising efficacy, for herbal abortants definitely do the trick.

Alas, herbal abortants are also associated with fatal poisoning or with women bleeding to death following induced miscarriage. Death as a side-effect of herb-induced abortion is especially associated with use of fringed rue, leopard's bane, Arctium, & with the South American herbal "remedy" Carachipita, though of course the latter's inclusion of oregano is not the ingredient that kills mothers.

   



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