The genus Origanum L. (Tribe Mentheae, Family Labiatae) is represented in Turkey by 22 species or 32 taxa, 21 being endemic to Turkey (Table 4.1). The rate of endemism among the Turkish Origanum species is 63 per cent. Out of 52 known taxa of Origanum, 32 are distributed in Anatolia, meaning 60 per cent of all Origanum taxa are recorded to grow in Turkey. This high rate is suggestive that the gene centre of Origanum is Turkey (Ietswaart, 1980; Davis, 1982; Lawrence, 1984; Kokkini, 1997).

Origanum species are known as "kekik" in Turkey. Herbal parts of Origanum species are aromatic and are used as condiment or herbal tea. Dried Origanum species are also used for the production of essential oil (Origanum oil, kekik yagi) and an aromatic water or hydrosol (Origanum water, kekik suyu) (Aydin etal., 1993; Baser, 1995; Baytop and Baser, 1995; Tumen etal., 1995; Baser, 1998; Baytop, 1999).

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