Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lippia palmeri, a Central American shrub now called “Mexican oregano”

Many plants of the genus Lippia (Verbenaceae) show beneficial activities assumed to be based on oils and phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, that have been extracted from samples of Lippia species. Antimalarial, spasmolitic, sedative, hypotensive and anti-inflammatory activities have been reported and reviewed [1]. Leaves of the species Lippia palmeri have a tradition as food seasoning. Russell Magnaghi writes in a review on the agricultural history of Baja California that the Jesuits, who had a presence on this Mexican peninsula from 1697 until 1768, replaced oregano (also named marjoram, brought along from Mediterranean countries) by Lippia palmeri [2]. Hence, the name “Mexican Oregano.”

Ask your waiter or waitress, what kind of oregano they use, during your next dinner or lunch at a Mexican restaurant—unless you already figured out by tasting.

Keywords:  ethnopharmacology, botany, herbs, cooking, American Indians, Jesuit missions

References, notes and more to explore
[1] M. E. Pascual, K. Slowing, E. Carretero, D. Sánchez Mata and A. Villar: Lippia: traditional uses, chemistry and pharmacology: a review. J. Ethnopharm. August 2011, 76 (3), pp. 201-214.
doi: 10.1016/S0378-8741(01)00234-3
[2] Russell M. Magnaghi: Mission Fruit. Natural History October 2011, 119 (9), pp. 22-29.
[3] See herbarium samples at

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