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Thymus serpyllum - L.

Common Name Wild Thyme
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry stony ground, open sandy heaths and grassland in East Anglia[7, 13, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Sweden south and east to France, Hungary and Roumania.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Thymus serpyllum Wild Thyme

Thymus serpyllum Wild Thyme


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Bloom Color: Purple. Main Bloom Time: Early summer. Form: Prostrate, Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Thymus serpyllum is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


T. angustifolius.


 Ground Cover; Lawn; Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Leaves - raw in salads or added as a flavouring to cooked foods[2, 11, 46, 61]. Thyme retains its flavour well in long slow cooking. If the leaves are to be dried, the plants should be harvested in early and late summer just before the flowers open and the leaves should be dried quickly[200]. An aromatic tea is made from the leaves[21].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antirheumatic;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Deodorant;  Diaphoretic;  Disinfectant;  
Disinfectant;  Expectorant;  Sedative;  Tonic.

Wild thyme is a commonly used domestic remedy, being employed especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestive system. The whole plant is anthelmintic, strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, deodorant, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, sedative and tonic[4, 165, 200, 238, 254]. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, catarrh, laryngitis, flatulent indigestion, painful menstruation, colic and hangovers[238]. It is said to be effective in treating alcoholism[238]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, it is applied to minor injuries, mastitis, mouth, throat and gum infections etc[238]. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled for the oil or dried for later use[238]. The seeds are used as a vermifuge[240]. Wild thyme contains all the medicinal properties of the more commonly used garden thyme (T. vulgaris), though in a lesser degree[4]. An essential oil distilled from the leaves is used in the treatment of stress-related conditions, though it can cause allergic reactions[238].

Other Uses

Deodorant;  Disinfectant;  Disinfectant;  Essential;  Fungicide;  Repellent.

An essential oil from the leaves and flowering tops is used in perfumery, soaps, medicinally etc. It has fungicidal and disinfectant properties[4, 7]. About 150 grams of oil are obtained from 100 kilos of plant material[4]. The dried flowers are used to repel moths from clothing[4]. The growing plant is said to repel cabbage root fly[18, 20]. A good ground cover for a sunny position[197]. It needs weeding for the first year or so[197]. Plants are best spaced about 45cm apart each way[208]. Plants are only satisfactory when young or growing luxuriantly - they are apt to become bare in patches otherwise[208].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Rock garden, Seashore. Requires a light well-drained preferably calcareous soil in a sunny position[1, 200]. Succeeds in dry soils[4]. Grows well between stepping stones on paths, tolerating light treading[183, 200]. Succeeds on walls. Thymes dislike wet conditions, especially in the winter. A layer of gravel on the soil around them will help protect the foliage from wet soils[238]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[200]. This is a very difficult genus taxonomically, the species hybridize freely with each other and often intergrade into each other[200]. This species is harvested commercially for its essential oil, known as 'wild thyme'[218]. Closely related to T. praecox arcticus, but this species is not so common in Britain[11]. It is a very polymorphic plant. A good companion for most other plants[54], it makes a very good carpeting plant for the rockery or between paving stones[1] and can also be grown in a short lawn[54]. The flowers are rich in nectar and are very attractive to honey bees[200], the plant also attracts butterflies[4, 7, 24]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Suitable for dried flowers.


Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Seed can also be sown in autumn in a greenhouse. Surface sow or barely cover the seed. Germination can be erratic. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn[200]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring. Cuttings of young shoots, 5 - 8cm with a heel, May/June in a frame[200]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame[200]. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Balma jhar, Banajawain, Csombor, Cubra, Kakukkbora, Kalandar zatar, Marizha, Masho, Rang sbur, Samon-phyu-yaing, Shakei, Wild thyme,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Australia, Austria, Balkans, Bosnia, Britain, Canada, China, East Africa, Estonia, Ethiopia, Europe*, Eurasia, Hawaii, Hungary, Iceland, India, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, North America, Norway, Pacific, Poland, Spain, Tasmania, Turkey, USA,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Thymus caespititiusCretan Thyme22
Thymus camphoratusCamphor Thyme02
Thymus capitatusHeaded Savory, Thymus22
Thymus cilicicusCilician Thyme12
Thymus herba-baronaCaraway Thyme32
Thymus hirtus 22
Thymus mastichinaMastic Thyme22
Thymus pannonicusEurasian thyme22
Thymus praecoxMother of thyme, Creeping thyme, Woolly Thyme22
Thymus praecox arcticusWild Thyme32
Thymus pseudolanuginosusWoolly Thyme22
Thymus pulegioidesBroad-Leaved Thyme, lemon thyme22
Thymus quinquecostatus 22
Thymus vulgarisCommon Thyme, Garden thyme, Wild Thyme43
Thymus x citriodorusLemon Thyme, Creeping Lemon Thyme, Lemon-Scented Thyme42
Thymus zygis 22


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Readers comment

Christel Peart   Thu Jul 20 2006

I want to grow it between paving stones. How do I start it off???? Please help!!!! Christel Peart Guildford, UK

Joel   Mon Oct 8 2007

I want to make a full lawn with it, avoiding grass. I live in the South of France and it's always sunny and dry and hot in summer. My soil is rocky except for the surface. Suggestions. I planted two small samples two weeks ago. Thanks, Joel.

Jennifer Watson   Thu Dec 13 2007

I am wanting to know the difference between T. serpyllum and T. pulegioides! How can you tell them apart visually? And can they be used interchangeable medicinally? Thank you so much for any help. Jennifer Watson jwatson@holdenarb.org

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Subject : Thymus serpyllum  
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