Leaves, essential oil.
For long people have been using the Lebanese oregano in the form of a therapeutic and flavoring herb. This herb contains high levels of thymol, which is believed to be responsible for its therapeutic effects, especially for treating gum infections, tooth decay and even coughs. Many people also drink a tea prepared from Lebanese oregano leaves after meals with a view to facilitate digestion. Apart from being an accommodative garden plant, Lebanese oregano is also appropriate for growing in balconies and on terraces.
The leaves as well as the flowering tops of Lebanese oregano are used for adding essence to foods. The flavour of this herb reminds one of a mixture of oregano, thyme and marjoram. Occasionally, people add blend dried Lebanese oregano with sumac (obtained from Rhus species) to prepare a blended spice called zatar. This blended spice is used together with olive oil in the form of a bread topping. For instance, the Bedouins use the dried Lebanese oregano leaves with salt and eat this dry blend with bread. Usually, the leaves as well as the flowering tops of this herb are dried and sold commercially as "oregano". However, the term "oregano" should actually be used to denote the species O. vulgare. Nevertheless, the Lebanese oregano is also a very popular herb, whether used fresh or dried, and is often employed to season salads, sauces, soups, stews, stuffings, roasts, vegetables as well as meat. You may also use the dried leaves of this herb in potpourris. Often, people bake the Lebanese oregano into the outer layer of pita bread and then brushed with olive oil before eating. In addition, dried out herb is also sprinkled on various other foods for seasoning them.
Origanum syriacum or Lebanese oregano grows well in a wide range of soils, including normal, arid and medium that have proper drainage and are located in full sun. This herb has a preference for alkaline soils and it thrives well even in coarse sandy loams. However, the key to growing Lebanese oregano successfully is cultivating the species in extremely well-drained soils. This plant possesses the aptitude to endure heat as well as drought conditions. In order to propagate Lebanese oregano, sow the seeds indoors roughly six to eight weeks before the last expected date of frost in spring. Alternatively, you may also sow the seeds directly outdoors approximately a fortnight before the last expected date of spring frost in your area. In order to promote a bushy growth of the plants, it is essential to trim their stems before the appearance of their flowers. If you are growing Lebanese oregano in containers, you may bring them indoors during fall prior to frost. However, these plants do not survive through the winter properly. Lebanese oregano is a very accommodating plant, requiring very little after care or maintenance. However, you need to trim the flowering shoots during spring with a view to encourage dense growth. Lebanese oregano can be propagated from their seeds, division as well as basal cuttings. If you wish to propagate the species from its seeds, preferably sow them in early spring in a greenhouse where the temperature ranges between 10�C and 13�C. Usually, the seeds germinate in just two weeks. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to be handled, prick them individually and plant in separate pots. You may transplant the young plants into their permanent locations outdoors during the beginning of summer. The plants may be propagated by division either in March or during October. It is quite easy to propagate Lebanese oregano using this method. While you can directly plant the larger divisions into their permanent positions outdoors, it is always better to plant the smaller divisions in individual containers and keep growing them in a cold frame in semi-shaded areas till they establish properly. Once the plants are established, you can plant them outdoors either in spring or in the beginning of summer. You can also propagate Lebanese oregano from basal cuttings. Ideally, the basal cuttings should be made from the young leafless shoots and undertaken in June. It is very easy to propagate Lebanese oregano using this method. The shoots should be harvested with lots of underground stem when they have already grown to a height of 8 cm to 10 cm over the ground. Plant the cuttings in separate pots and place those in a greenhouse or cold frame in light shade till they have rooted properly. You can move the young plants to their permanent positions outdoors during summer. The leaves of Lebanese oregano are very vulnerable to aphid infestation. If you notice distorted leaves, honeydew or galls on the plants, you should be sure that they have been infested by aphids. It is advisable that you use biological means such as predators like Aphidoletes aphidimyza or parasitic wasps to keep aphids in control. On the other hand, presence of delicate web-like structures on the plants is an indication that they are enduring red spider mite infestations. Red spider mites have sucking mouthparts and they draw out the sap from the plants, damaging them severely. These pests usually appear under glass and you can control these by using chemical insecticides or biological means like parasitic mites. Lebanese oregano has a tendency to bear flowers throughout the year and you can also harvest them all through the year. This plant is a favourite of butterflies and bees. Hence, if you wish to draw them to your garden, it is advisable you grow Lebanese oregano.
Chemical analysis of oregano leaves and flowering tops has shown that they enclose an essential oil, which contains various compounds like thymol, p-cymene and gamma-terpinene. Among these three, thymol is the main constituent of the essential oil of Origanum syriacum or Lebanese oregano.
You can harvest Lebanese oregano almost throughout the year, especially when their branches have grown to a length of no less than three inches. You can also use the flowers of this herb for culinary purposes.