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Common Name: Bible Hyssop
Origanum syriacum is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
S. Europe - E. Mediterranean to W. Asia.
Calcareous rocks and slopes, often in partial shade, 200 - 2700 metres in Turkey[
Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk[
]. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions[
This species is not hardy in the colder areas of Britain, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
The leaves and flowering tops are used as a seasoning, having a flavour reminiscent of a blend of thyme, marjoram and oregano[
]. The dried herb is sometimes mixed with sumac (from Rhus species) to form the spice blend known as 'zatar', this is used along with olive oil as a topping for breads[
]. The Bedouin grind the dried leaves, add salt and eat the dry mixture on bread[
]. The leaves and flowering stems of this species are often dried and supplied commercially as 'oregano', a name that should more accurately be restricted to O. vulgare[
The aerial parts of the plant have been shown to have a moderately strong inhibitory effect on the production of pancreatic lipase, thus helping to lower lipid levels in the body. It could, therefore, have a role to play in the treatment of obesity[
Seed - sow in a greenhouse in early spring at 10 - 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.
Division in early spring or early autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in early summer. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.