Are Oregano Flowers Edible?
I think you are going to be in for a treat when you find out that yes, oregano flowers are absolutely edible. Oregano leaves tend to steal the show with this popular herb, but the beautiful flowers should not be just enjoyed by pollinators in your garden.
First, we will give you some background info about oregano plants so you can get to know this wonderful herb. Afterward, a flavor profile is provided for pairing with foods, and then we will get into harvesting the plant with a basic grow guide in case you want to have this handy herb around for quick access.
Get to know all the wonders this Mediterranean plant provides below.
Some Background Info
Oregano goes by many names. It’s no wonder! This plant has been known throughout history to have many medicinal uses and has even been called “the Miracle of the Mediterranean”. Here are a few other names this culinary herb goes by:
- Wild marjoram
- Italian oregano
- Winter marjoram
It is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) which tends to have very aromatic herbs in its bunch. Many of the herbs you use in your kitchen feature this wonderful family. People often confuse Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens) and Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) – also called “Spanish Thyme” – for the true oregano you typically find in Italian cuisine. This species is Origanum vulgare also known as European Oregano.
Common names can be misleading so be sure to take note of the scientific name to be sure you have the correct herb.
Parts of Oregano To Use
- Flowers and Leaves: Garnishes, Oils, Vinegars, Pizza, Honey, Tea, Breads, Sauces, Casseroles, Garnishes, Pestos – very versatile and can be used in many ways
- Stem: Pestos, Salads, Broths
Preparing the Flowers For Cooking
Tips For Harvesting the Flowers
Oregano begins blooming in late spring or early summer depending on the variety and your growing season. For the best results, wait for fresh flowers to bloom when you harvest oregano. A paper bag or basket is great for gathering flowers.
As a bonus, harvesting the flowers will keep the plant bushy.
There isn’t too much to do. Wash the flowers if you know the area has been sprayed or you can just use them as is. If you do wash them, dry them before incorporating them in oils, vinegar, and honey.
Finally, appreciate their absolute beauty and give them a big whiff to stimulate your cooking creativity!
- Leaves: Oregano has a slightly bitter peppery flavor. It has hints of lemon as well.
- Fresh leaves: An intense flavor compared to dried leaves. Be aware of this as you are cooking. Many times it is the opposite effect with herbs.
- Flowers: Much less intense than that of the leaves. Same flavor profile as above.
- Stems: A milder flavor than the leaves, but with the same essence as above. Can be fibrous.
The possibilities are endless with what you can do with oregano flowers. Pair it with other Mediterranean herbs and you are really setting yourself up for success!
We have to start out this first recipe with one of the best uses for oregano flowers (in my opinion) and that is pizza! Skip the dry oregano this time. If you want a strong flavor, pair it with the green leaves as well. Find a sweet-tasting red pasta sauce to round out the full flavor. After clicking the link, scroll down the post to the middle to see the recipe.
2. Fried Rice
Ever thought of adding oregano flowers to a fried rice dish? We hadn’t either until we saw this incredible recipe. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure!
What a delicious bread made for any time of the year! A little olive oil drizzled over the top and you are set. Give this recipe a go!
Infused vinegar can bring a delightful splash to a bland salad. Adding this flavorful vinegar to your cupboard is an excellent idea as there are always greens to be gathered in the garden!
5. Oregano Tea
We are going to leave you with one of our favorite recipes which is oregano tea! This is our video where we walk you through the benefits of oregano and show you how to make this herbal tea. Feel free to substitute the flowers to replace the leaves and be gentle when you release the oils.
Oregano has proven its value as a medicinal herb throughout the ages as we have mentioned before. There are plenty of studies that have concluded its value. Even using it as an essential oil has proven effective. Here is a list of some of the positive benefits [ 1 ]:
- Vitamins and minerals
Varieties To Grow
If you are ready to have fresh oregano flowers on hand, it may be time to start an herb garden! Or if that feels like too big of a commitment, you can always mix a plant in with your veggies or have a small pot on the windowsill. You will have the best time plucking the leaves when it is time to cook!
There are many delicious varieties of oregano you can grow. Just make sure it is a culinary variety for the most flavor. The type of oregano does matter. Ornamental oreganos still retain some taste, but it is certainly not as pronounced as the culinary ones. And you want the one with the most punch.
When buying your plant or seeds, look for the scientific name Origanum Vulgare var. After the word “var” which is short for “variety” you will see the different varieties available to you.
Honestly, some may be listed as “common oregano” and you may have to inquire as to the variety with the nursery. The varieties have different flavors so it’s a good idea to know the names of the ones you like! Origanum Vulgare has the most pungent flavor.
Take a look at our list below for two with savory flavor.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum)
This is the classic oregano people use when cooking. Most likely you will stumble across this one in the nursery. It has white flowers when they bloom.
Golden Oregano (Origanum vulgare var. aureum)
This is another popular edible type. Some only think of it as an ornamental which is totally understandable as it has beautiful pink and purple flowers and bright yellow leaves.
Where to Grow?
Oregano is a perennial herb which means it will come back the following year. It does like warm climates so if your temperature drops too low it may suffer and potentially die. Consider potting it up and bringing it inside for the winter if you live in a cold grow zone. It can be a wonderful ground cover and low maintenance.
Consider where these attributes would benefit you the most in relation to your other plants growing.
If you have a garden, as a general rule of thumb you can plant them 8 to 10 inches apart with the other following parameters:
- Good Drainage
- Oregano performs well in sandy, loam soils.
- Full sun
- Many enjoy full sun, but some varieties can handle partial shade. Check what your variety prefers.
- Good air circulation
Feed The Plant
Your plant definitely needs food and compost is great for this. Oregano doesn’t like too much wet soil so don’t overdo it here. Fish emulsion is an excellent source of nitrogen and can give your plant a boost throughout the season if needed as well.
Oregano can handle dry soils and doesn’t need to be watered constantly. I would water once a week at minimum and check in with your plant to see if it needs more.
One Last Tip…
Aromatic herbs help keep pests away and attract pollinators so oregano doesn’t have too many natural enemies. Do keep an eye out for aphids and spider mites as well as any fungal diseases that may arise due to wet conditions.
I hope you all enjoyed discovering the answer to “are oregano flowers edible?” and found some cool recipes to try. Oregano flowers can be thrown in anywhere the leaves would be used, but you can use the showy petals to add some flare to your dishes.
If you like showy petals, you might be interested in our guide/recipes on how to use edible hibiscus! Check it out when you have the time.
Please leave any comments and share any cool recipes you try. We would love to hear from you!
[ 1 ] Kosakowska, O., Węglarz, Z., Pióro-Jabrucka, E., Przybył, J. L., Kraśniewska, K., Gniewosz, M., & Bączek, K. (2021). Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils and Hydroethanolic Extracts of Greek Oregano (O. vulgare L. subsp. hirtum (Link) Ietswaart) and Common Oregano (O. vulgare L. subsp. vulgare). Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(4), 988. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26040988