Thymus vulgaris

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Thymus vulgaris
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Thymus
T. vulgaris
Binomial name
Thymus vulgaris
Flowering thyme

Thymus vulgaris (common thyme, German thyme,[1] garden thyme[2] or just thyme) 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.[3]

It is useful in the garden as groundcover, where it can be short-lived, but is easily propagated from cuttings.[3] It is also the main source of thyme as an ingredient in cooking and as a herbal medicine. It is slightly spicier than oregano and sweeter than sage.

A shoot of a common thyme plant in the wild (Castelltallat)

The Latin specific epithet vulgaris means “common” in the sense of “widespread”.[4]


Numerous cultivars and hybrids have been developed for ornamental purposes. Nomenclature can be very confusing.[5] French, German and English varieties vary by leaf shape and colour and essential oils.[6] The many cultivars include 'Argenteus' (silver thyme).[7]

The cultivar 'Silver Queen', with white-margined leaves, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[8][9]

See also[edit]

  • Thyme (discussion of culinary and medicinal uses)
  • Thymol, a disinfectant extract of essential oils


  1. ^ "Bonnie Plants Thyme". Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Thymus vulgaris". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  4. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.
  5. ^ Totally Thyme
  6. ^ Herbs 2000: Thymus vulgaris
  7. ^ Thymus argenteus
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Thymus 'Silver Queen'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  9. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 102. Retrieved 23 December 2018.


  • L. H. Bailey; Manual of Cultivated Plants.
  • M. Easter; International Thymus Register and Checklist.

External links[edit]