Thymus serpyllum

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Thymus serpyllum
Thymus serpyllum1.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Thymus
T. serpyllum
Binomial name
Thymus serpyllum
Synonyms [2]
  • Cunila thymoides L.
  • Hedeoma thymoides (L.) Pers.
  • Origanum serpyllum (L.) Kuntze
  • Serpyllum angustifolium (Pers.) Fourr.
  • Serpyllum citriodora Pall.
  • Serpyllum vulgare Fourr.
  • Thymbra ciliata Ten. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus acicularis Besser nom. illeg.
  • Thymus adscendens Bernh. ex Link
  • Thymus affinis Vis.
  • Thymus albidus Opiz
  • Thymus angulosus Dulac
  • Thymus angustifolius Pers. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. empetroides Wimm. & Grab.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. ericoides Wimm. & Grab.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. inolens Dumort.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. intermedius Becker
  • Thymus angustifolius var. linearifolius Wimm. & Grab.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. pycnotrichus Uechtr.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. rigidus Wimm. & Grab.
  • Thymus angustifolius var. silvicola Wimm. & Grab.
  • Thymus angustus Opiz ex Déségl.
  • Thymus apricus Opiz
  • Thymus aureus auct.
  • Thymus azoricus Lodd. nom. inval.
  • Thymus barbatus Opiz
  • Thymus beneschianus Opiz
  • Thymus borbasii Borbás
  • Thymus caespitosus var. castriferrei (Borbás) Soó
  • Thymus calcicolus Schur
  • Thymus campestris Salisb. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus carstiensis (Velen.) Ronniger
  • Thymus caucasicus Willd. ex Benth.
  • Thymus chamaedrys var. rotundifolius Nyman
  • Thymus ciliatus Lam.
  • Thymus citratus Dumort.
  • Thymus citriodorus Schreb.
  • Thymus communis Kitt.
  • Thymus concolor Opiz
  • Thymus dalmaticus var. carstiensis Velen.
  • Thymus decumbens Bernh. ex Rchb.
  • Thymus deflexus Benth.
  • Thymus elatus Schrad. ex Rchb.
  • Thymus ellipticus Heinr.Braun nom. illeg.
  • Thymus ellipticus Opiz
  • Thymus elongatus Opiz
  • Thymus erioclados Borbás
  • Thymus exserens Ehrh. ex Link
  • Thymus flogellicaulis A.Kern.
  • Thymus gizellae Borbás
  • Thymus glabrescens Benth. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus gratissimus Dufour ex Willk. & Lange
  • Thymus hackelianus Opiz
  • Thymus hausmannii Heinr.Braun
  • Thymus hornungianus Opiz
  • Thymus incanus Grossh. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus incanus Willd. ex Benth. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus includens Ehrh. ex Rchb.
  • Thymus inodorus Lej. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus interruptus Opiz
  • Thymus jaquetianus (Ronniger) M.Debray
  • Thymus kollmunzerianus Opiz ex Benth.
  • Thymus kratzmannianus Opiz
  • Thymus laevigatus Vahl
  • Thymus linearifolius Heinr.Braun
  • Thymus longistylus Opiz
  • Thymus lucidus Willd.
  • Thymus macrophyllus Heinr.Braun
  • Thymus majoranifolius Desf.
  • Thymus micranthus Wierzb. ex Opiz
  • Thymus minutus Opiz
  • Thymus muscosus Zaver.
  • Thymus oblongifolius Heinr.Braun nom. illeg.
  • Thymus ovatus var. concolor (Opiz) Formánek
  • Thymus ovatus var. subcitratus (Schreb.) Formánek
  • Thymus procerus Opiz ex Benth.
  • Thymus procumbens Benth. ex Opiz
  • Thymus pseudoserpyllum Rchb. ex Benth.
  • Thymus pulegioides var. jaquetianus Ronniger
  • Thymus pumilus Gueldenst. ex Ledeb.
  • Thymus pusillus Gueldenst. ex Ledeb.
  • Thymus pusio Dichtl
  • Thymus pycnotrichus (Uechtr.) Ronniger
  • Thymus radoi Borbás
  • Thymus raripilus Dichtl
  • Thymus reflexus Lej.
  • Thymus reichelianus Opiz
  • Thymus repens Gilib. nom. inval.
  • Thymus rigidulus Kerguélen
  • Thymus rigidus Rchb. ex Besser
  • Thymus rotundifolius Schur nom. illeg.
  • Thymus sanioi Borbás
  • Thymus serbicus Petrovic
  • Thymus serratus Opiz
  • Thymus simplex Kitt.
  • Thymus spathulatus var. castriferrei Borbás
  • Thymus subcitratus Schreb.
  • Thymus subhirsutus Borbás & Heinr.Braun
  • Thymus variabilis Hoffmanns. & Link
  • Thymus villosus Pall. ex M.Bieb. nom. illeg.
  • Thymus wierzbickianus Opiz
  • Thymus wondracekianus Opiz
  • Ziziphora thymoides (L.) Roem. & Schult.

Thymus serpyllum, known by the common names of Breckland thyme, [3] 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.



Wild thyme is a creeping dwarf evergreen shrub with woody stems and a taproot. It forms matlike plants that root from the nodes of the squarish, limp stems. The leaves are in opposite pairs, nearly stalkless, with linear elliptic round-tipped blades and untoothed margins. The plant sends up erect flowering shoots in summer. The usually pink or mauve flowers have a tube-like calyx and an irregular straight-tubed, hairy corolla. The upper petal is notched and the lower one is larger than the two lateral petals and has three flattened lobes which form a lip. Each flower has four projecting stamens and two fused carpels. The fruit is a dry, four-chambered schizocarp. [4]

Distribution and habitat

Wild thyme is native to the Palearctic realm of Europe and Asia. It is a plant of thin soils and can be found growing on sandy-soiled heaths, rocky outcrops, hills, banks, roadsides and riverside sand banks. Wild thyme is one of the plants on which both the common blue butterfly and large blue butterfly larvae feed and it is also attractive to bees. [4] [5]


Creeping and mounding variants of T. serpyllum are used as border plants and ground cover around gardens and stone paths. It may also be used to replace a bluegrass lawn to xeriscape low to moderate foot traffic areas due to its tolerance for low water and poor soils. [6] [7] [8]

Numerous cultivars have been produced, of which 'Pink Chintz' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. [9] [10] A miniature creeping form is 'Elfin'. [11]



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<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>Dianthus barbatus</i> species of plant

Dianthus barbatus, the sweet William, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It has become a popular ornamental garden plant. It is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant growing to 13–92 cm tall, with flowers in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems. Each flower is 2–3 cm diameter with five petals displaying serrated edges. Wild plants produce red flowers with a white base, but colours in cultivars range from white, pink, red, and purple to variegated patterns. The exact origin of its English common name is unknown but first appears in 1596 in botanist John Gerard's garden catalogue. The flowers are edible and may have medicinal properties. Sweet William attracts bees, birds, and butterflies.

<i>Thymus praecox</i> species of 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.

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<i>Armeria maritima</i> flowering plant in the family Plumbaginaceae

Armeria maritima, the thrift, sea thrift or sea pink, is a species of flowering plant in the family Plumbaginaceae. It is a compact evergreen perennial which grows in low clumps and sends up long stems that support globes of bright pink flowers. In some cases purple, white or red flowers also occur. It is a popular garden flower and has been distributed worldwide as a garden and cut flower. It does well in gardens designed as xeriscapes or rock gardens.

<i>Lavandula angustifolia</i> species of plant

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<i>Catharanthus roseus</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae

Catharanthus roseus, commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae. It is native and endemic to Madagascar, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental and medicinal plant, a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat cancer. It was formerly included in the genus Vinca as Vinca rosea.

This is an alphabetical index of articles related to gardening.

<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>Viola sororia</i> Species of flowering plant genus Viola, in Eudicot family, Violaceae

Viola sororia, known commonly as the common blue violet, is a short-stemmed herbaceous perennial plant that is native to eastern North America. It is known by a number of common names, including common meadow violet, purple violet, the lesbian flower, woolly blue violet, hooded violet, and wood violet. Its cultivar 'Albiflora' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

<i>Vinca major</i> species of plant

Vinca major, with the common names bigleaf periwinkle, large periwinkle, greater periwinkle and blue periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae, native to the western Mediterranean. Growing to 25 cm (10 in) tall and spreading indefinitely, it is an evergreen perennial, frequently used in cultivation as groundcover.

<i>Euonymus fortunei</i> species of plant

Euonymus fortunei, the spindle, Fortune's spindle, winter creeper or wintercreeper, is a species of flowering plant in the family Celastraceae, native to east Asia, including China, Korea, the Philippines and Japan. It is named after the Scottish botanist and plant explorer Robert Fortune.

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

Thymus citriodorus, the lemon thyme or citrus thyme, is a lemon-scented evergreen mat-forming perennial. 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>Saxifraga stolonifera</i> species of plant

Saxifraga stolonifera is a perennial flowering plant known by several common names, including creeping saxifrage, strawberry saxifrage, creeping rockfoil, as well as the quite ambiguous Aaron's beard, mother of thousands, roving sailor, wandering Jew, and strawberry begonia or strawberry geranium.

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

Thymus pulegioides, common names broad-leaved thyme or lemon thyme, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to Europe. Growing to 5–25 cm (2–10 in) tall by 25 cm (10 in) wide, it is a small spreading subshrub with strongly aromatic leaves, and lilac pink flowers in early summer. The specific epithet pulegioides highlights its similarity to another species within Lamiaceae, Mentha pulegium (pennyroyal).


  1. Linnaeus. Sp. Pl. 590 1753.
  2. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  3. Schauer, Thomas (1978). A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe, Collins, London, p. 184. ISBN   0-00-219257-8.
  4. 1 2 "Breckland Thyme: Thymus serpyllum". NatureGate. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  5. Eva Penn-Smith, Caterpillar food plants (PDF)
  6. "Thyme, the Fragrant Ground Cover". Fine Gardening.
  7. "Planting and Maintaining a Thyme Lawn". GardenGuides.
  8. "What is Xeriscape Nothing More Than Seven Common Gasrdening Principals". Archived from the original on 15 May 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  9. "RHS Plant Selector - Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'" . Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  10. "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 102. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  11. "Elfin Thyme Care – How Do I Plant Elfin Thyme In The Garden". Gardening Know How.
  12. Caterpillar food plants