How Are These Herbs Similar and Different? Cuban Oregano, Oregano, and Carom Seeds
Check out these three herbs. Ajwain/ carom seeds plant, Ajwain leaf/Cuban Oregano/Ajwain Leaf/ Mexican Mint, and the normal oregano herb/ Italian oregano. These three herbs are very much similar in flavor but they are different plants. They are very commonly mistaken for each other. I know at least I did that mistake until I grew carom seeds plants. I used to believe that Cuban Oregano produces Carom seeds. In India, we make very delicious fritters with Cuban Oregano leaves and I really wanted to grow them in my home garden. I have grown Cuban oregano before but it didn’t produce any seeds that time and died in winter so never got the opportunity to see the actual seeds before.
I started carom seeds in the hope to grow some flavorful Cuban Oregano and ended up getting this plant that looked nothing like Cuban Oregano. If you are like me who get confused between these two plants, let’s clear our confusion completely. Let’s begin.
How are Cuban Oregano, Oregano, and Carom Seeds Similar?
All three of these plants smell somewhat similar. It is because they all contain Thymol and some other essential oils and phenolic compounds that are common to them. That is the reason they all smell alike. The smell can be aroma for someone and can be nauseating to others depending on the personality. But overall it is very strong, pungent, and medicinal.
The other similarity is that they all have tiny flowers that grow in clusters that invite many beneficial insects and pollinators into the garden.
The third similarity is that all three of these plants grow super fast. So you can use them to quickly fill up the empty spaces in the garden.
Some people say that these highly aromatic herbs keep rabbits away but rabbits in my yard don’t get bothered by them. I have a tiny oregano patch and many times when I go out in the yard, I see rabbits leaping into this patch to hide from me.
How are Cuban Oregano, Oregano, and Carom Seeds Different?
There are several physical differences among these plants.
You can see here the leaves are so different. Carom seeds have thread-like leaves, oregano has leaves that are arranged in pairs exactly opposite to each other and they are not thick. Cuban oregano has the biggest leaves among these three and they are also arranged in pairs opposite to each other. The leaves are thicker and stiffer. I crushed the leaves and carom seeds and they smell very pungent compared to the other two. Oregano also has a strong but very strong but pleasant smell. The differences in smells could be because oregano plants are in the ground and very healthy and huge whereas the other two plants are potted and small. Also, they have started bolting so that could have changed the smell.
Flowers and Seeds
Both carom seeds and oregano has white tiny flowers. Carom seeds form circular florets whereas oregano and Cuban oregano flowers are arranged in flower spikes in different levels.
Here are ajwain/ carom seeds developing under tiny flowers. You can see them easily. The seeds of the other two plants that is Cuban oregano and oregano develop in these flower spikes and are hidden.
I hope if you have some confusion like me then now you also can identify these plants clearly.