Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)

Plectranthus amboinicus is a tender perennial herb with many common names including Cuban oregano, Spanish thyme, oregano brujo, broadleaf thyme and big thyme.
The leaves are chopped and used with stuffing, salads and meats. It can also be used as a substitute for oregano or sage. If you've picked a few leaves for use in the kitchen and didn't use them all, do not refrigerate what's left. This is a tropical herb and refrigerator temperatures quickly cause brown deteriorating spots. Excess leaves store very well in a sealed plastic baggie or container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
The leaves are large, fleshy and covered with fine hairs.
In full sun the leaves are generally 3-4 inches in diameter, but with a little shade they can easily reach 6" or more in length. Long stems tend to flop over, so keep the plant compact by frequent harvest of the growing tips for use in the kitchen.

This plant is recommended for USDA Zones 9B-11. In areas that experience frost, Cuban oregano is best grown as an annual during the warm months. In frost-free areas the plant is perennial, developing a woody stem at the base and growing about 2 feet in height.
Older plants are not as vigorous, so I like to plant fresh starts each spring that quickly become large specimens. Cuban oregano thrives in sun or part shade. There is also a variegated form that is slower-growing.


Mark and Gaz said...

An interesting herb with ornamental leaves too!

Anonymous said...

The variegated form is quite pretty. I'll have to add these to my herb garden.


mr_subjunctive said...

Also makes a decent houseplant.

Carolyn ♥ said...

Hmmm... I can smell those beautiful leaves from here.

lotusleaf said...

This plant is called Indian Borage in India, and is used extensively in Ayurveda medicine.

Fra frø til blomst said...

Thank you - very informative post.

Got a Cuban Oregano last week from a garden friend and was looking for information.

David The Good said...

Good profile... these are a delicious and all-too-often-overlooked herb.

I wonder how these would fit into a permaculture guild system. I definitely like that it's perennial. In my zone 8b/9a garden, I've carried some tender things over by cutting them down and mounding over the top with straw... I should try doing that with these rather than only snagging leaves at friends' houses.

Anonymous said...

Where can you get this - either a seed or a starter etc. I am very interested in this. Its really medicinal - used it as a kid in India for Colds and for digestive issues with great success, I landed at your blog front trying out different image searches


Grower Jim said...

I've added a link at the bottom of the post where you can buy my Cuban oregano cuttings. Thanks!