Mexican oregano plants
Mexican oregano leaves
Dried Mexican oregano leaves
Mexican oregano is a native of Mexico, as the name suggests. Its botanical name is lippia graveolens and it is closely related to the herb lemon verbena. Although only loosely related to common oregano, Mexican oregano displays a very similar flavour, albeit stronger. It is increasingly traded, especially in the US. Its strong aroma makes it an acceptable substitute for epazote leaves if the latter are not available, although this would not work in reverse. There is a significant taxonomic confusion about the term "oregano" in Mexican cooking. Several plants are named "oregano" in different parts of Mexico and there is little clear information about those although plants that have been identified as "Mexican oregano" are poliomintha longiflora, lippia berlandieri, plectranthus amboinicus and monarda fistulosa var. menthifolias.
Verbenaceae (verbena family).
For the etymology of oregano, see oregano. Genus name lippia is a tribute to French physician and explorer Augustin Lippi (1678- 1701). Species name graveolens is an obsolete Latin word for "a strong and offensive smell", a reference to the fact that the aroma of the plant is significantly stronger than that of Mediterranean common oregano.
The taste of Mexican oregano (similar to that of Mediterranean common oregano but stronger) is popular not only in its native country Mexico but also in the South of the US where it is frequently used to flavour chilli con carne (meat stewed with chillies and beans) and other Mexican-inspired dishes. For this purpose, it is usually combined with varieties of chillies and paprika, dried garlic or onion and cumin.