|The dark specks on the pizza are oregano|
Oregano is a small green plant that has been used for many centuries as a flavoring herb and a medical treatment. This ancient plant originated from the Meditteratian region, but has spread in popularity and commonly used today in Italian cuisine. In antiquity, the oil was used to treat a variety of ailments including diarrhea, poisonous bites, sores, headaches, and fevers.
Oregano is a bushy shrub with many stems and branches. Its many leaves are round, about 4cm. long, and often covered in fuzz . Oregano's flowers are tall, purple or white, and shaped a bit like tubes. the flowers are very small and many of them will sprout out of a purplish-green collection of leafy scales that are about 2.5cm long . A typical oregano plant will grow anywhere from 30-45cm. . Oregano seeds are small, dark brown, and could easily be mistaken for a speck of dirt if dropped on the ground.
Oregano is capable of reproducing through sexual reproduction and rhizomes . Sexual reproduction takes place by use of pollen. The anther of the Oregano plant has many pollen grains attached to it. These pollen grains contain male reproductive cells. When the pollen finds its way to the stigma of its own, or another flower it creates a tube down through the center part of the flower called the pistil. The tube tunnels down into the ovary of the flower where the male reproductive cell combines with the ovule to form an oregano seed at the base of the flower . A few subspecies of Origanum vulgare reproduce through rhizomes. the plant has special roots that grow other oregano plants as it spreads from the parent. In a clump of oregano plants that reproduced with rhizomes all of their DNA is identical.
Oregano grows in many areas of the world abundantly. Originally native the the Mediterranean region spanning from Italy to Pakistan. The crop has spread rapidly because it is able to live in a large variety of climates. Today Oregano grows wild in Asia Minor, Southern Europe, and in India. It is a popular herb garden plant in almost any country that has a temperate or tropical climate. Oregano is not only consumed by humans but it is also a part of the local wildlife's diet providing valuable fats and vitamins not available from other flora. In the wild oregano grows commonly on hills. Hills provide ideal conditions by providing direct sunlight and soil that drains easily .
Oregano has shown its true worth through the incredible amounts of culinary and medical applications it exhibits. Oregano has been being used for centuries in Italian cooking and in ancient Greece, as medical treatment. A large portion of Italy's world famous food has oregano leaves in it to give it a very distinct flavor. Oregano smells and tastes earthy and has a bit of spiciness to it creating a great medley of flavor for almost all variety of food. It does not do it justice to describe the taste, one must truly taste oregano to know what it is. Practically every traditional tomato sauce uses oregano, ergo, that is almost all varieties of pizza and many pasta dishes. Italian and Greek cooking would be mostly dead without oregano.
Plants were commonly used as medical cures in antiquity, including oregano. Even today, the oil from oregano leaves is extracted and taken in capsule form. Back in ancient Asia Minor and Southern Europe the oil was used to treat diarrhea, poisonous bites from spiders and scorpions, muscles sores, headaches, fevers and many other ailments . However, it is unclear how the variety of oregano was used for each discomfort, so Origanum vulgare may have had limited uses. Half the time the Greeks just gulped down any sort of plant they thought would take away their stomach pains or heal their flesh wounds anyways. Oregano's oil is very healthy when paired with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Some oregano enthusiasts have started brewing tea with the leaves, but real hardcore oregano buffs take a quart of water and steep it in oregano leaves then pour it in their bathwater.
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- Flowering Plant Reproduction Mark Farabee. Estrella Mountain Community Collage. 2001
- Common Herbs - Oregano Susan Grupp. University of Illinois. 2009
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- Oreganum vulgare L. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009