Origanum dictamnus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Origanum dictamnus
Species Authority: L.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-04-13
Assessor(s): Delipetrou, P. & Bazos, I.
Reviewer(s): de Montmollin, B. & Bilz, M.
Origanum dictamnus is endemic to Crete where it has a restricted distribution with an extent of occurrence of 7,600 km² and an area of occupancy of 250 km². However, it the number of locations is large, there is no indication of population fragmentation and the habitat is often inaccessible. Overexploitation is a serious threat but there is no quantification or documentation of a reduction of population size or of the loss of locations in the past. Thus, Origanum dictamnus does not qualify for any of the threat categories, but continued overcollection of the wild populations would render the plant threatened. It is therefore assessed as Near Threatened as it is suspected to reach Criterion A.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Origanum dictamnus is native to the island of Crete, Greece. It is widespread on the island, and becomes rarer towards the east. It occurs on most mountain ranges (Lefka Ori Mts, Idi Mts, Dikti Mts, Thrypti Mts, Asterousia Mts) and mountains (e.g. Giouchtas Mt), and in several gorges (e.g. Trypiti, Prassiano, Aithiano, Kourtalioti). Confirmed post 1930 mapped records are provided by Turland (1995), Kypriotakis (1997), Bergmeier et al. (2001), Tsiourlis and Pentarakis (2001), and MAICh (2008). Based on these the extent of occurrence is 7,600 km² and the area of occupancy is 250 km².
Greece (Kriti)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Origanum dictamnus has been recorded in 60-70 locations throughout Crete. There is no objective assessment of the population size and all assessments are based on subjective observations. It was reported that overexploitation had caused dramatic reduction of population sizes and even the complete extinction of the plants in some areas (Skoula and Kamenopoulos 1996). Zaffran (1990) assessed the plant as “rare” on Crete regarding its abundance.

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It grows on calcareous cliffs but also on stony and rubbly ground such as gorge beds. Found from sea level to 1,900 m asl (Commission of the European Communities 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This herb is used as a condiment and has medicinal properties (Plants For A Future 2010). Skoula and Kamenopoulos (1996) reported that the production of Origanum dictamnus collected from wild populations in the period 1981 to 1991 was 1.5-3.5 tonnes/year. Although the plant was cultivated in the same period (production 25-40 tonnes/year), dried plant of wild origin had a higher price.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat for Origanum dictamnus is overexploitation of the natural populations mainly for the trade of the dried plant which has medicinal properties. Due to this threat, Turland (1995) classified the plant as vulnerable (V, old IUCN criteria). Kypriotakis (1997) however classified the taxon as rare (R, old IUCN criteria). The cultivation of Origanum dictamnus is today more organised and this might have decreased the pressure on those wild subpopulations that are difficult to access. However, Stavropoulos et al. (2006) still included Origanum dictamnus in the list of wild plants threatened by overexploitation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Origanum dictamnus is listed on Annex II of the Habitats Directive and under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). It is protected in Greece by the Presidential Decree 67/81 and included in the Red Data Book (Phitos et al. 1995). Part of the population of the plant is included in Natura 2000 sites (GR4310001, GR4310002, GR4330003, GR4330004, GR4330005, GR4340002, GR4340005, GR4340007, GR4340009, GR4340012).

Bibliography [top]

Bergmeier, E., Dimopoulos, P., Wolf, W., Kienzler, P. and Ilgenfritz, G. 2001. Vegetation description and mapping for the NATURA 2000 sites GR4330003, GR4330004, GR4340002, GR4340004, GR4340005, GR4340009, GR4340012. Final Report for “Identification and description of habitat types in sites of interest for nature conservation – Project 3”. National & Kapodistrian University of Athens; Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.

Commission of the European Communities. 2009. Composite Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. Brussels.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Kypriotakis, Z. 1997. Contribution to the study of the chasmophytic flora of Crete and proposals for its management as a natural resource. Department of Biology, University of Patras.

MAICh. 2008. Virtual Botanical Museum of Crete: Origanum dictamnus. Available at:

Phitos, D., Strid, A., Snogerup, S. and Greuter, W. (eds). 1995. The Red Data Book of Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece. WWF-Greece, Athens.

Skoula, M. and Kamenopoulos, S. 1996. Origanum dictamnus L. and Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum (Link) Ietswaart: Traditional uses and production in Greece. Proceedings of the IPGRI International Workshop on Oregano: 26-32. Valenzano, Bari, Italy.

Stavropoulos, N., Gogkas, D., Chatziathanassiou, A., Zagilis, E., Drakopoulos, G., Paitaridou, D., Trigas, P., Thanopoulos, R., Koutsomitros, S., Perdikaris, A., Lourida, B. and Alesta, A. 2006. Greece: Second Country Report concerning the state on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Hellenic Democracy, Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Athens.

Tsiourlis, G. and Pentarakis, C. 2001. Vegetation description and mapping for the NATURA 2000 site GR4310001, GR4310002, GR4330005, GR4340012. Final Report for “Identification and description of habitat types in sites of interest for nature conservation – Project 4”. National Agricultural Research Foundation; Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.

Zaffran, J. (ed.) 1990. Contributions à la flore et à la végétation de la Crete. Aix en Provence, Université de Provence.

Citation: Delipetrou, P. & Bazos, I. 2011. Origanum dictamnus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 31 March 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided