Dittany, a perennial herbaceous plant or small shrub. The Crete dittany, a dwarf shrub native to Crete, grows to a height of 12 inches (30 cm). It has square stems bearing small, round leaves covered with fine, white hairs. Clusters of small, fragrant, purple flowers appear in late summer. It is used as a pot plant and in window boxes. The false dittany is similar in appearance to the Crete dittany. The seed pod of the false dittany was once used in Mediterranean regions as a floating wick in olive oil lamps. The American dittany, native to eastern North America, is a many-branched, herbaceous plant with stems up to 16 inches (40 cm) long.
Dittanies belong to the mint family, Labiatae. Crete dittany is Origanum dictamnus; false dittany, Ballota acetabulosa; and American dittany, Cunila origanoides.