"Indeed, Sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the Salad, or rather the herb of grace"
--Clown, in Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well, IV, 5

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(Origanum majorana)

This perennial laviate herb, commonly known as "sweet marjoram" and a native of Africa, is the source of many fabulous stories. For example, it was told that Venus raised the first plant. Probably unrelated, it is also told that wild marjoram was originally a boy in the service of King Cinyras of Cyprus. One fateful, he was carrying a vase of perfumes...and dropped it. In his terror, he lost consciousness and ultimately was metamorphosed into this fragrant herb. Indeed, the name Origanum literally means "Joy of the Mountain.

The ancient Greeks believed that if marjoram grew on a tomb, the dead person was happy. At the same time, marjoram was one of the strewing herbs, and it was always put into sweet sachets to keep linens and clothing sweet smelling.

Related to the mint family, it is sweeter and more delicate than its relatives oregano and pot marjoram (Origanum onites). The plant tops produce origanum oil, which was once used as a medicine but now is used for perfuming soaps.