Thymus (plant)

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Thymus camphoratus kz07.jpg
Thymus camphoratus
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Thymus
L. [1]
Type species
Thymus vulgaris
Synonyms [2]
  • CephalotosAdans.
  • MastichinaMill.
  • SerpyllumMill.

The genus Thymus ( /ˈtməs/ TY-məs; [3] thymes) contains about 350 [4] 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. Thymus species are particularly concentrated in Iran, attributed to Iran's diverse climate and topographic/geographic location. [5]


Thyme is packed with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. [6] Thyme species such as T. fedtschenkoi, T. pubescens, and T. transcaucasicus have high amounts of essential oils; thymol and carvacrol. [7] These Thymus species are used for herbal tea, spice, and medicine. [7] The therapeutic effect of thyme is largely attributed to these essential oils belonging to the terpenoids family. [8] Thyme is considered amongst the most consequential medicinal plants due to its substantial amount of bioactive compounds. [9] Thyme has been used to treat diabetes, cold and chest infections, and coughs. [10] Thymus quinquecostatus Celak is an example of a Thyme species present in Korea. [11] In conventional Korean medicine, Thymus quinquecostatus Celak has been used to treat cancer, hepatic disease, and constipation. [12]

Stems tend to be narrow or even wiry; leaves are evergreen in most species, arranged in opposite pairs, oval, entire, and small, 4–20 mm long, and usually aromatic. Thyme flowers are in dense terminal heads with an uneven calyx, with the upper lip three-lobed, and are yellow, white, or purple.

Several members of the genus are cultivated as culinary herbs or ornamentals, when they are also called thyme after its best-known species, Thymus vulgaris or common thyme.

Thymus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly and moth insect species, including Chionodes distinctella and the Coleophora case-bearers C. lixella, C. niveicostella, C. serpylletorum, and C. struella (the latter three feed exclusively on Thymus).


A considerable amount of confusion has existed in the naming of thymes. Many nurseries use common names rather than binomial names, which can lead to mix-ups. For example golden thyme, lemon thyme, and creeping thyme are all common names for more than one cultivar. Some confusion remains over the naming and taxonomy of some species, and Margaret Easter (who holds the NCCPG National Plant Collection of thymes in the UK) has compiled a list of synonyms for cultivated species and cultivars. [13]

The most common classification is that used by Jalas, in eight sections: [14]


Thymus is cultivated for its fragrant leaves and used as a culinary herb in mediterranean cooking. [15]

Mrs Margaret Easter was appointed International Cultivar Registration Authority for the genus in 2007. [16]

Selected species

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oregano</span> Species of flowering plant

Oregano is a species of flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. It was native to the Mediterranean region, but widely naturalised elsewhere in the temperate Northern Hemisphere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thyme</span> Herb

Thyme is the herb 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, with both plants being mostly indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Thymes have culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, and the species most commonly cultivated and used for culinary purposes is Thymus vulgaris.

<i>Syringa</i> Genus of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae

Syringa is a genus of 12 currently recognized species of flowering woody plants in the olive family or Oleaceae called lilacs. These lilacs are native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia, and widely and commonly cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere.

<i>Beta vulgaris</i> Species of flowering plant

Beta vulgaris (beet) is a species of flowering plant in the subfamily Betoideae of the family Amaranthaceae. Economically, it is the most important crop of the large order Caryophyllales. It has several cultivar groups: the sugar beet, of greatest importance to produce table sugar; the root vegetable known as the beetroot or garden beet; the leaf vegetable known as chard or spinach beet or silverbeet; and mangelwurzel, which is a fodder crop. Three subspecies are typically recognised. All cultivars, despite their quite different morphologies, fall into the subspecies Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. The wild ancestor of the cultivated beets is the sea beet.

<i>Juniperus communis</i> Species of conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae

Juniperus communis, the common juniper, is a species of small tree or shrub in the cypress family Cupressaceae. An evergreen conifer, it has the largest geographical range of any woody plant, with a circumpolar distribution throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thymol</span> Chemical compound found in plants including thyme

Thymol, C10H14O, is a natural monoterpenoid phenol derivative of p-Cymene, isomeric with carvacrol, found in oil of thyme, and extracted from Thymus vulgaris, ajwain, and various other 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. Thymol is only slightly soluble in water at neutral pH, but it is extremely soluble in alcohols and other organic solvents. It is also soluble in strongly alkaline aqueous solutions due to deprotonation of the phenol. Its dissociation constant (pKa) is 10.59±0.10. Thymol absorbs maximum UV radiation at 274 nm.

<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>Thymus praecox</i> Species of flowering plant

Thymus praecox is a species of thyme. A common name is mother of thyme, but "creeping thyme" and "wild thyme" may be used where Thymus serpyllum, which also shares these names, is not found. It is native to central, southern, and western Europe.

<i>Plectranthus</i> Family of shrubs

Plectranthus is a genus of about 85 species of flowering plants from the sage family, Lamiaceae, found mostly in southern and tropical Africa and Madagascar. Common names include spur-flower. Plectranthus species are herbaceous perennial plants, rarely annuals or soft-wooded shrubs, sometimes succulent; sometimes with a tuberous base.

Carvacrol, or cymophenol, C6H3(CH3)(OH)C3H7, is a monoterpenoid phenol. It has a characteristic pungent, warm odor of oregano.

<i>Thymus vulgaris</i> Species of flowering 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 flowering plant

Thymus citriodorus, the lemon thyme or citrus thyme, is a lemon-scented evergreen mat-forming perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae. There has been a great amount 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., yet an analysis in a different study clustered Thymus citriodorus together with Thymus vulgaris, which is considered as one of its parent species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Watermelon</span> Large gourd fruit with a smooth hard rind

Watermelon is a flowering plant species of the Cucurbitaceae family and the name of its edible fruit. A scrambling and trailing vine-like plant, it is a highly cultivated fruit worldwide, with more than 1,000 varieties.

<i>Scopula rubiginata</i> Species of geometer moth in subfamily Sterrhinae

Scopula rubiginata, the tawny wave, is a moth of the family Geometridae. The species was first described by Johann Siegfried Hufnagel in 1767.

Trifurcula thymi is a moth of the family Nepticulidae. It is found from Germany and Poland to the Alps and Hungary, as well as in France and the Iberian Peninsula.

<i>Scrobipalpa artemisiella</i> Species of moth

Scrobipalpa artemisiella is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It is found in most of Europe, Turkey and Syria through the Caucasus and Central Asia to Irkutsk and Mongolia. It has also been recorded from North America, but this records requires confirmation.

<i>Clinopodium menthifolium</i> Species of flowering plant

Clinopodium menthifolium, commonly known as the wood calamint or woodland calamint, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is found throughout southern and central Europe from the United Kingdom and east as far as temperate parts of Asia, and as south as North Africa. It grows up to 1,700 m (5,600 ft) in elevation.


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