Origanum ‘Barbara Tingey’

About 3 years ago, on 3 August 2006, Daniel selected today’s plant for Botany Photo of the Day. As I passed the cultivar’s modest flowers in our E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden earlier this week, it seemed time to feature the small oregano species once again.

Lamiaceae (mint family) consists of between 223 and 263 genera and between 6900 and 7200 species, most of which are distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin and southwestern Asia. Generally speaking, the annual or perennial family members are aromatic shrubs, trees, or vines equipped with square stems dressed in whorled leaves. The family produces bilaterally symmetrical, bisexual flowers that exhibit 5 united sepals and 5 united petals.

The genus Origanum includes 44 herbaceous perennial and sub-shrubby species and a broad diversity of lower taxa (6 subspecies, 3 varieties, 18 naturally occurring hybrids). Species—which are notoriously difficult to label correctly—are native to the dry, warm, and rocky-soiled alpine habitats of the Mediterranean and Eurasia, but can survive in a wide range of soils and are variously hardy to zones 5 through 9. In order to encourage healthy growth and development, gardeners often create environments that simulate the species' native habitat, siting plants in soils mixed with sand, shells, or gravel in garden areas that are exposed to full sun or partial shade. Species exhibit ovate-leaved stems that are either trailing or erect, and they variously put forth flowers of pink, purple, or white. Some Origanum species contain the sharply sapid chemical carvacrol, for which they are included in many forms of cuisine that originate around the Mediterranean Sea (Italy, Greece). Outside of the kitchen, species extracts have long served as active ingredients in folk treatments for colds, coughs, and gastro-intestinal problems, and several are reputed to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. Linnaeus first described the cultivar genus (19/07/2009), which is featured in today’s photo of the cultivar 'Barbara Tingey', in the 18th century.

This evergreen specimen—which here seems to glow like a vast network of purple, candle-lit lanterns—grows easily in containers stocked with well-drained soil, and it propagates from cuttings with similar facility. The small, layered flowers press out from in between the hanging bracts and remain in bloom for the majority of the summer.

Origanum 'Barbara Tingey'

19 responses to “Origanum ‘Barbara Tingey’”

  1. Carole Miller

    So sweet and delightful. Thank you for a cheery picture.

  2. Susan Hall

    Thank You! I’d just seen this in bloom yesterday and wanted to know what it was. Perfect timing, excellent picture and info as always.

  3. Debby

    Hmm. I wonder if the Friends of the Garden propagate it for sale in the shop…

  4. Sherry

    What I would give to have the seeds for that!
    : O

  5. Ann Minasola

    Please remove my subscription to the daily Botany photo of the day.Thank you
    Ann Minasola

  6. Louise

    What a delightful photo!!!

  7. Cambree

    That is a beauty! I’ve never seen anything like it, would also love to grow some of these too.

  8. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Very pretty — “purple, candle-lit lanterns” indeed. I’d love to have these in my garden.
    I’m guessing, are the flowers about the size of chick-peas?

  9. Lj Orlin

    I have known this as ‘Ditttany of Crete”. Are we talking about the same plant> the ones I have seen have lavender colored bracts.
    I have wanted to get a start of this for a long time. They are popular and available in the Seattle area. But not on the eat coast as far as I can tell.

  10. elizabeth a airhart

    lovely plant
    from what i have read the flowers
    may be picked just as start
    to bloom and be dried
    lovely photo to end the night with
    thank you as always
    hello daniel

  11. Vic Stapel

    So pretty.
    If I may ask. “Sometimes” like this species it may help to show another photo to set the volume/space of a plant. This one to me looks like Fuchsia in size but as I read is chick pee size? That is tiny 🙂 But still gorgeous. Is it available in Vancouver stores ?
    What I also would like to suggest. Wouldn’t it obe helpful to have on this sn the right side
    a map of UBC gardens with a X were the plant of the day can be found in case some of us want to see them “life on site” …hint hint techno babble this is UBC right ? Thank you.

  12. onlyheaven

    Can anyone point me in the right direction to purchase Origanum ‘Barbara Tingey’ or the seed for it? PLEASE???

  13. SoapySophia

    Lovely. Mint family…never would have guessed!

  14. Don Fenton

    My Oragano’s do not produce bracts! A friend gave me a plant which had beautiful bracts, but when it flowered, it too, was bractless! I have grown quite a few distinct varieties [probably species] but never a bract!

  15. Deb

    This bears a very strong resemblance to another named cultivar of oreganum, called Kent Beauty, which also throws lovely bracts and purple flowers. Regularly available as a tender annual here in central Pennsylvania.

  16. siusi

    que coisa mais infinitamente linda

  17. Alexander Jablanczy

    Here at home these flowers are a pale pink rose with pale green hint.
    At camp they are deep reddish purple almost maroon with dark green roots or bases.
    Cant wait for the office will they be red pink puce salmon or rusty?
    So it depends on the setting of each computer.
    What might be done and what I couldnt do is to have a colour border which would adjust or at least identify the real colour.

  18. Rebecca

    I started with one small plant and have dug and divided and replanted over just a few years to the point where I have a mass of ground cover in my rock gardens. They are so beautiful, and neither the slugs nor the deer ever nibble on them!

  19. Paul steinkamp

    O. “Babara Tingey” has long flowers (2″) Paul Steinkamp, Alatmont, NY

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