Thymus citriodorus

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Thymus citriodorus
Starr 070906-8846 Thymus citriodorus.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Thymus
T. citriodorus
Binomial name
Thymus citriodorus
(Pers.) Schreb.

Thymus × citriodorus
T. serpyllum citratus
T. serpyllum citriodora
T. serpyllum citriodorum


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. [1] [2]

T. citriodorus is an evergreen sub-shrub, growing to 0.1 metres (3.9 in) in height by 0.3 metres (12 in) in spread. It prefers full sun and well draining soil. The bloom period is mid to late summer, with pink to lavender flowers that are a nectar source for bees and butterflies. [3]


Thymus citriodorus and its cultivars are grown as ornamentals, culinary herbs, and medicinal plants. In landscaping, the plants are often used as groundcovers or for planting in beds, between stepping stones, and in containers. In xeriscaping it is useful in hot, arid regions. The plant is drought-tolerant once established. [4] As nectar-producing plants, they are cultivated in bee and butterfly gardens. [3]

The leaves are eaten raw in salads or used as a fresh or dried flavoring herb in cooking and for herbal teas. [3] Other uses include essential oil, folk remedies, antiseptics, respiratory aids, aromatherapy, deodorants, perfumes, skincare and cosmetics. [3]

Taxonomy and synonyms

Thymus citriodorus has had many different names over time, including Thymus × citriodorus, Thymus fragrantissimus, Thymus serpyllum citratus, Thymus serpyllum citriodorum, and more. It was also believed at one time that the plant was a hybrid of European garden origin, between Thymus pulegioides and Thymus vulgaris. DNA analysis has shown that T. citriodorus is not part of the DNA tree that includes T. pulegioides and T. vulgaris. [2]


'Variegata' - Golden lemon thyme. Variegated Lemon Thyme Thymus citriodorus variegata Leaves 3264px.JPG
'Variegata' - Golden lemon thyme.

Cultivars are selected for foliage color, and aromas of different citrus fruits. The following are sold by various nurseries, often under the synonyms, so scientific naming is not reliable:

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  1. IPNI Listing
  2. 1 2 "Thymus citriodorus". Plant Heritage. 12 (2). Autumn 2005.
  3. 1 2 3 4 PFAF: taxonomy/treatment. Accessed 12.1.2011
  4. High Country gardens: Low Water Plants . accessed 12.1.2011
  5. 1 2 3 4 Sunland Herbs
  6. Halcyon Plants: Thymus fragrantissimus 'Orange' - Orange thyme.