Also known as Vicks Salve, Mexican Mint, or Spanish Thyme, this succulent herb has the typical four-cornered stem of the Lamiaceae family. The leaves are very thick and succulent, grey-green and hairy. The plant grows about 19 inches tall. The leaves are highly aromatic with a strong flavour of mixed herbs.
The herb grows easily in a well-drained, semi-shaded position. It is frost tender and grows well in sub-tropical and tropical locations, but will do well in cooler climates if grown in a pot and brought indoors, or moved to a warm sheltered position in winter. Water only sparingly.
The leaves are strongly flavoured and make an excellent addition to stuffings for meat and poultry. Finely chopped, they can also be used to flavour meat dishes, especially beef, lamb and game.
The leaves have also had many traditional medicinal uses, especially for the treatment of coughs, sore throats and nasal congestion, but also for a range of other problems such as infections, rheumatism and flatulence. In Indonesia Plectranthus amboinicus is a traditional food used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth.
The herb is also used as a substitute for oregano in the food trade and food labelled "oregano-flavoured" may well contain this herb.
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director