confused on oregano

yardart(6/7)October 15, 2005

I have a low growing plant that spreads out from the centre. The leaves are furry and fleshy. I have been touting this plant as "Mexican Oregano" but have been corrected by a good source, but what is it? It has a good strong oregano type purfume and the plant itself is a light green.

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andy_sa(South Australia)

Plectranthus amboinicus - should be plenty of info on the web about this. Let me know if you need more info, as I have done a lot of research into this plant and its uses by various cultures.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 10:13AM
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Plectranthus amboinicus. Yea sure. I should have known that. The Latin name gave me a jolt. Why does it have so many names? Mexican mint, Cuban Oregano, Mexican Oregano? I do not have the varigated kind. Anyway, it is a lovely and satisfying plant. The perfume alone is divine. I have begun to root it to keep it through the winter. Can one dry it? Do you have recipes? I have begun to learn some Latin cooking and would love to expand into other Latin foods.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 1:32PM
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I don't know why it has so many names try looking up tagetes lucida (texas tarragon, mexican mint marigole, etc) some time. So my mom could get one, I sent her a list of about 10 names for that one and there were more, I know it as cuban oregano too, it's not cold hardy if you have it in the ground. I love that plant it's so pretty, mine is veregated and just lovely. It's easy to propagate too buy cuttings-though slow. I guess that's why we have the latin names.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 4:32PM
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It's actually not related at all to oregano! I know it as Mother of Herbs, or 3-in-one (several other numbers can substitute for the '3'!). The numbers refer to the number of different aromas resembling that of other herbs which can be detected by individual people, including sage, thyme, oregano, basil etc. It's also known as Coleus amboinicus. And yes, it can grow like a weed - very tough in my hot climate.

Use in the same ways as Oregano in Mediterranean dishes, and stews, with tomatoes and capsicum. It's really the herb you use when you don't know what herb to use! Chop the leaves up very finely, or just toss the leaves in whole and remove before serving, as you would a bay leaf.

Use an infusion of the leaves as a hair rinse to treat dandruff, or in the laundry as a final rinse. The leaf tea can be taken for bronchitis, asthma, coughs, viral conditions, to relieve indigestion and stomach cramps, convulsions, as a liver tonic, for insomnia, and for pain relief. Pulped leaves will relieve the pain of scorpion or centipede bites and stings. Leaves may be chewed to relieve sore throat and coughs.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 7:25PM
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CA Kate

I've got to get me some of this herb...... for the scorpion stings, if nothing else! I'm writing down it's Latin name right now on my "must have" list for next year.

Daisy: is this a perenial for you?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Perennial - yes.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:39AM
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"Mother of All Herbs" What a wonderful name. Can you dry it? Not a perennial for me.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 9:02PM
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yeah. Cuban Oregano is what I bought it as. I want some Mexican Oregano (lippia graveolens) because it is great in salsa.

the Cuban is tender perennial, but roots from cuttings like a champ!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 10:08PM
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andy_sa(South Australia)

Sorry Yardart - only just found the posting again.
I first came across the plant in Ecuador, but didn't actually find it in cooking. It was given to me (dried, rubbed leaves) mixed with hot water, lime juice and sugar once for a stomach ache. I found out in Malaysia that it is used by the Malays as a laxative (THAT explains it!).
Indians pound the leaves with lime juice and apply to the temples in the case of a headache - nice and cooling, a bit like Tiger Balm but without the heat. The leaves are also warmed and then squeezed, the juice drunk for sore throats.
I have only come across the names mentioned above in Australia.
Also remember hearing that it is used in the West Indies, so you might try looking up Jamaican, Puerto Rican and Cuban recipes.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 8:05AM
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Plectranthus amboinicus is a marvellous herb, especially as it reproduces so easily. It will take it's place on my winter shelf along side of my aloe vulgaris.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 9:45AM
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I have several varieties of this group. Like others, I've seen them listed interchangeably, as Plectranthus amboinicus and Coleus amboinicus. The common names include Cuban Oregano (solid and variegated), Broadleaf Thyme ((solid and variegated)), Spanish Oregano and Portuguese Oregano. Then thereÂs Vicks Plant, which is very aromatic but not used in cooking. I have plants of all of the above. The Cuban Oregano versions have rather fleshy leaves and look the same as the Broadleaf Thymes. The Vicks plant has smaller, fleshy leaves, clearly different. The Spanish and Portuguese Oreganos have larger, thinner leaves and both are variegated with the Spanish having a white margin and the Portuguese having a margin that is yellow in lower light and bright white with a narrow red edge in full sun. There is a variety listed as Wedgwood that looks to be very similar or the same as the Spanish Oregano. All of my plants do great in pots and over-winter indoors with no problems. They donÂt seem to attract any pests, either, probably due their high oil content. They are very pungent in a good way.

My descriptions are based on the plants I bought through Richters, Companion Plants and Mountain Valley Growers. I could be totally wrong, if the plants sent to me are not typical of the varieties.

Hope this helps a little.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 8:55AM
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