There are many species of oregano. Origanum vulgare is a hardy, aromatic, bushy perennial with rose-purple, sometimes pink to white flowers. It is a European native, where it is commonly called White Marjoram.
Oregano has been highly prized for its folk and culinary uses. It is particularly used in Italian and Greek cuisine. It is the leaves that are used in cooking, and the dried herb is often more flavorful than the fresh.
Oregano is often used in tomato sauces, with fried vegetables, and grilled meat. With basil, oregano contributes much to the distinctive character of many Italian dishes. It also combines nicely with pickled olives, capers, and lovage leaves. Unlike most Italian herbs, oregano works with hot and spicy food, which is popular in southern Italy.