Last updated
A bundle of thyme
Food energy
(per 100  g serving)
101  kcal  (423 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per 100  g serving)
Protein 6  g
Fat 1.7  g
Carbohydrate 24  g

Thyme ( /tm/ ) is the herb (dried aerial parts) of some members of the genus Thymus of aromatic perennial evergreen herbs in the mint family Lamiaceae. Thymes are relatives of the oregano genus Origanum . They have culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, and the species most commonly cultivated and used for culinary purposes is Thymus vulgaris .



Flowering thyme Flowering thyme.JPG
Flowering thyme

Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. [1] The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs". [2] In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. [3] In this period, women also often gave knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life. [4]

The name of the genus of fish Thymallus , first given to the grayling (T. thymallus, described in the 1758 edition of Systema Naturae by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus), originates from the faint smell of thyme that emanates from the flesh. [5]


Thyme is best cultivated in a hot, sunny location with well-drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring, and thereafter grows as a perennial. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or dividing rooted sections of the plant. It tolerates drought well. [6] The plant can take deep freezes and is found growing wild on mountain highlands.

Culinary use

Seombaengnihyang-cha (Ulleungdo thyme tea) Seombaengnihyang-cha.jpg
Seombaengnihyang-cha (Ulleungdo thyme tea)

In some Levantine countries, and Assyria, the condiment za'atar (Arabic for both thyme and marjoram) contains many of the essential oils found in thyme. It is a common component of the bouquet garni , and of herbes de Provence .

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. While summer-seasonal, fresh greenhouse thyme is often available year-round. The fresh form is more flavourful, but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. However, the fresh form can last many months if carefully frozen. [7]

Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced 12 to 1 inch (13 to 25 mm) apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. Dried thyme is widely used in Armenia in tisanes (called urc).

Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g., in a bouquet garni), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually, when a recipe specifies "bunch" or "sprig", it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons, it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.

Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork.

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.

Antimicrobial properties

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil ThymeEssentialOil.png
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil

Oil of thyme, the essential oil of common thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ), contains 20–54% thymol. [8] Thyme essential oil also contains a range of additional compounds, such as p-cymene, myrcene, borneol, and linalool. [9] Thymol, an antiseptic, is an active ingredient in various commercially produced mouthwashes such as Listerine. [10] Before the advent of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages. [2]

Important species and cultivars

Variegated lemon thyme Variegated Lemon Thyme Thymus citriodorus variegata Leaves 3264px.JPG
Variegated lemon thyme

Related Research Articles

Oregano Perennial herb

Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.

Parsley Species of flowering plant in the celery family Apiaceae cultivated as an herb

Parsley or garden parsley is a species of flowering plant in the family Apiaceae that is native to the central and eastern Mediterranean region, but has naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and is widely cultivated as an herb, and a vegetable.

Tarragon Species of flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae

Tarragon, also known as estragon, is a species of perennial herb in the sunflower family. It is widespread in the wild across much of Eurasia and North America, and is cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Fennel A flowering plant species in the carrot family

Fennel is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.

Coriander Annual herb

Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. It is also known as Chinese parsley or dhania or cilantro. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking.

Basil Species of plant, important culinary herb

Basil, also called great basil, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae (mints).

<i>Coleus amboinicus</i> Species of plant

Coleus amboinicus, synonym Plectranthus amboinicus, is a semi-succulent perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae with a pungent oregano-like flavor and odor. The origin of Coleus amboinicus is unknown, but it may be native to Africa, and possibly India. Coleus amboinicus is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere in the tropics where it is used as a spice and ornamental plant. Common names in English include Indian borage, country borage, French thyme, Indian mint, Mexican mint, Cuban oregano, soup mint, Spanish thyme. The species epithet, amboinicus refers to Ambon Island, in Indonesia, where it was apparently encountered and described by João de Loureiro. Ambon is one of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia.

Thymol Chemical compound found in plants including thyme

Thymol (also known as 2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP) is a natural monoterpenoid phenol derivative of cymene, C10H14O, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and extracted from Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Ajwain and various other kinds of plants as a white crystalline substance of a pleasant aromatic odor and strong antiseptic properties. Thymol also provides the distinctive, strong flavor of the culinary herb thyme, also produced from T. vulgaris.

<i>Thymus</i> (plant) genus of plants

The genus Thymus contains about 350 species of aromatic perennial herbaceous plants and subshrubs to 40 cm tall in the family Lamiaceae, native to temperate regions in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

<i>Thymus serpyllum</i> Species of plant

Thymus serpyllum, known by the common names of Breckland thyme, Breckland wild thyme, wild thyme, creeping thyme, or elfin thyme, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae, native to most of Europe and North Africa. It is a low, usually prostrate subshrub growing to 2 cm (1 in) tall with creeping stems up to 10 cm (4 in) long. The oval evergreen leaves are 3–8 mm long. The strongly scented flowers are either lilac, pink-purple, magenta, or a rare white, all 4–6 mm long and produced in clusters. The hardy plant tolerates some pedestrian traffic and produces odors ranging from heavily herbal to lightly lemon, depending on the variety.

<i>Calamintha</i> genus of plants

Calamintha is a genus of plants that belongs to the family Lamiaceae. Commonly called the calamints, there are about eight species in the genus which is native to the northern temperate regions of Europe, Asia and America.

Zaatar Highly valued herbal spice used in seasoning

Za'atar is a culinary herb or family of herbs. It is also the name of a spice mixture that includes the herb along with toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, often salt, as well as other spices. As a family of related Middle Eastern herbs, it contains plants from the genera Origanum (oregano), Calamintha, Thymus, and Satureja (savory) plants. The name za'atar alone most properly applies to Origanum syriacum, considered in biblical scholarship to be the hyssop of the Hebrew Bible. Used in Levantine cuisine, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Mediterranean region of the Middle East.

<i>Thymus herba-barona</i> species of plant

Thymus herba-barona is a species of thyme native to Corsica, Sardinia, and Majorca. It is also sometimes known by the common name caraway thyme, as it has a strong scent similar to caraway, for which it can be used as a substitute in any recipe. It can be used in cuisine or as an evergreen ground cover plant for the garden.

<i>Thymus vulgaris</i> species of plant

Thymus vulgaris is a species of flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae, native to southern Europe from the western Mediterranean to southern Italy. Growing to 15–30 cm (6–12 in) tall by 40 cm (16 in) wide, it is a bushy, woody-based evergreen subshrub with small, highly aromatic, grey-green leaves and clusters of purple or pink flowers in early summer.

<i>Thymus citriodorus</i> species of plant

Thymus citriodorus, the lemon thyme or citrus thyme, is a lemon-scented evergreen mat-forming perennial plant in the famly Lamiaceae. There has been a great deal of confusion over the plant's correct name and origin. Recent DNA analysis suggests that it is not a hybrid or cross, but a distinct species as it was first described in 1811.

<i>Thymus pannonicus</i> species of plant

Thymus pannonicus, known by its common name Hungarian thyme or Eurasian thyme, is a perennial herbaceous plant, distributed in central and eastern Europe and Russia. It grows over open dry meadows, grasslands, and rocks.

Herb In general rather than botanical use, plant used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume

In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant, while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to herbs and spices:

<i>Thymus zygis</i> species of plant

Thymus zygis is a type of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae.

<i>Lagoecia</i> Genus of Apiaceae plants

Lagoecia, wild cumin, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apiaceae. It has only one species, Lagoecia cuminoides, native to the Mediterranean region and as far east as Iran. Its essential oil contains 72.83–94.76% thymol, quite a bit more than thyme itself.


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  11. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2015-09-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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Further reading