Where Did Oregano Originate?

did-oregano-originate Credit: DR NEIL OVERY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Originally hailing from Europe and Central Asia, oregano has a long history of medicinal use before it became a kitchen staple for seasoning a variety of dishes, according to The Herb Information Site. Using a name of Greek origins, oregano was also historically used as a key ingredient in alcoholic ales to prevent them from turning sour.

Oregano began to gain favor in the United States as servicemen began to return from Europe in the mid 1940s, according to The Herb Information Site. Accustomed to eating pizza flavored with the herb, service men brought it home with them and it quickly became used in the same way throughout the United States.

Mexican oregano is a popular variety of oregano that is used widely throughout the western United States. While Mexican oregano is a prime ingredient used as a seasoning in conjunction with chili powder, oregano from Europe is most suitably paired with spaghetti sauce and pizza sauces.

Oregano is a perennial that has become naturalized in the northeast United States, making it easy to find in old gardens and farmhouses, according to The Herb Information Site. Oregano is a shrubby plant that spreads invasively through undergrowth stems. The pungent and peppery leaves of oregano can be used in many of the same ways as marjoram or thyme in cooking.