Oasis marjoram or mardadouch grows in the Tafilalet Oases in the south of Morocco in the area of Errachidia. Despite its morphological similarities to other varieties, the marjoram cultivated in the oases of Morocco has a very specific chemotype that makes it unique. The perennial plant grows 40-50 cm tall, and is cultivated for its small, grayish-green, aromatic leaves. New plantings are generally planted in September or October. Oasis marjoram produces small white flowers from June to August. The leaves are harvested during and just after flowering, from August to September, by cutting 10 cm long branches, which are then dried in the shade. The marjoram has been cultivated in the oases for generations now. It is a product cultivated and harvested by women only, who promote it for its culinary and medicinal uses and transform it and sell it at the markets. The cultivation and commercialization of the marjoram is a very important activity for the women of the area and a very good source of income. It is estimated that a few hundred kilograms of oasis marjoram is harvested annually. Oasis marjoram is an aromatic plant whose fresh leaves can be eaten in salads and dried leaves used as a seasoning in various dishes, especially soups. It is also used to make an infusion with tea leaves. It is used medicinally to treat colds, stomach pains, rheumatism and inflammations. Marjoram essential oils are very rare in the oases, but also very popular. Today, this ecotype is at risk of being lost because fewer people continue its cultivation due to the increase in the markets of imported marjoram from other regions.
Image: @ Giovanni Marabese