Oregano is a woody perennial plant, growing 20–80 cm (8–31 in) tall, with opposite leaves 1–4 cm (1⁄2–1+1⁄2 in) long. The flowers are purple, 3–4 mm (1⁄8–3⁄16 in) long, produced in erect spikes in summer. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative, O. Majorana, is known as sweet marjoram. Both are very widely used as culinary herbs, especially in Spanish, Italian and French cuisine. Oregano is also an ornamental plant, with numerous cultivars bred for varying leaf colour, flower colour and habit.
Oregano is related to the herb marjoram, sometimes being referred to as wild marjoram. It has purple flowers and spade-shaped, olive-green leaves. It is a perennial, although it is grown as an annual in colder climates, as it often does not survive the winter. Oregano is planted in early spring, the plants being spaced 30 cm (12 in) apart in fairly dry soil, with full sun. It will grow in a pH range between 6.0 (mildly acidic) and 9.0 (strongly alkaline), with a preferred range between 6.0 and 8.0. It prefers a hot, relatively dry climate, but does well in other environments.