Thymus vulgaris Thymus vulgaris Thymus vulgaris

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Broad-leaved Thyme

Thymus pulegioides

  • Name also: Broadleaved Thyme, Larger Wild Thyme, Large Thyme, Lemon Thyme
  • Family: Mint Family – Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
  • Growing form: Perennial dwarf shrub.
  • Height: 10–20 cm (4–8 in.). Stem ascending, rooting from nodes, 4-edged, only hairy along edges. All branches flowering. With strong scent.
  • Flower: Corolla irregular (zygomorphic), rose-purple, approx. 6 mm (0.25 in.) long, fused, bilabiate, straight-tubed, hairy. Corolla upper lip with notched tip, flat; lower lip 3-lobed, central lobe bigger than lateral lobes. Calyx narrowly campanulate, bilabiate. Calyx’s lower lip 2-lobed, lobes narrow; upper lip 3-lobed, lobes narrowly triangular. Stamens 4, protruding from corolla, straggly. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Flowers in whorls forming an umbel, lowest whorls often separate.
  • Leaves: Opposite, stalked. Blade ovate–elliptically lanceolate, with tapered base, reddish spots and entire margin.
  • Fruit: 4-parted schizocarp.
  • Habitat: Parks, harbours, waste ground, roadsides. Also ornamental.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Small plants which are sold in garden centres as wild thyme (Breckland thyme, T. serpyllum) are nowadays almost always actually broad-leaved thyme. The species are not very easy to differentiate. Broad-leaved thyme grows taller and is more erect, only the edges of the stem are haired, and all the shoots terminate in flowers. Wild thyme on the other hand usually grows clearly closer to the ground, its stems are hairy all over and it has a lot of flowerless shoots close to the ground. The species sometimes cross-breed with each other. This is no great problem to the average gardener as broad-leaved thyme thrives in a terraced garden or rockery, just like wild thyme. Part of the population has ended up in the country mixed in with grass seed. Broad-leaved thyme grows in many places as a wild herb and as a leftover from cultivation, and typical habitats include dry park lawns and roadside gravels, even though the plant is not particularly eager to spread close to people and human activity. It likes sunshine and dry, light soil.

Broad-leaved thyme is native to Europe’s temperate zone, and it grows in many different kinds of open places: rocky outcrops, gravels, sandy places and on light soils. Grazing helps thyme because the cattle keep the vegetation sufficiently low, and even sheep don’t eat members of the genus.

Thymes have been used in the home in many ways, from making cough medicine to attracting a husband to exorcising the Devil. Its popularity is based on its aromatic fragrance, and the most famous member of the genus is the seasoning herb common thyme (T. vulgaris).

Common Thyme

Thymus vulgaris

In Finland common thyme (also known as garden thyme, German thyme, English thyme) is an ornamental and spice plant which doesn’t much escape to nature. Unlike other Finnish thyme species common thyme is erect, up to 20 cm high, not rooting from nodes and undersides of its leaves are tomentose. Several varieties have been created, which in Finland are generally annual.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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