Economic Botany

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 232-241

First online:

Identification of biblical hyssop and origin of the traditional use of oregano-group herbs in the Mediterranean region

  • Alexander FleisherAffiliated withFlorasynth, Inc.
  • , Zhenia FleisherAffiliated withTechnion-Israel Institute of Technology

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A comparative study of the traditional use of oregano-like herbs in the Mediterranean region provides convincing evidence that the hyssop of the Bible is the carvacrol chemotype of the plantMajorana syriaca. The ancient tradition of ritual use of this plant gave rise to two cultures of condiments: za’atar in the Middle East and oregano in Europe.

The flavor of the original hyssop was the determining factor in this development and remained unchanged in oregano and za’atar throughout the centuries.