Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)



Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a cultivated medicinal and culinary herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to southern Europe. It is also known as Common Thyme, English Thyme, Summer Thyme, Winter Thyme, French Thyme, or Garden Thyme. It is a low growing herbaceous sub-shrub, 15-20 cm tall, which sometimes can becoming somewhat woody.

Thyme is used to add flavor to sauces, stews, stuffings, meats, poultry, and almost anything from soup to salad. Thyme is also a good source of iron and is a basic ingredient in Caribbean, Portuguese, Assyrian, Spanish, Greek, Nigerian, Turkish, Indian, Italian, French, Albanian, Persian, and Levantine cuisines. It is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. Thyme is slow to release its flavours so it is usually added early in the cooking process. Even though thyme is flavorful, it does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. Fresh thyme is usually sold in bunches of sprigs. Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.

The essential oil of thyme contains 20-54% thymol which is an antiseptic. Thymol is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Thymol is effective against bacteria and fungi, and also acts as a expectorant, loosening phlegm in the respiratory tract so that it can be coughed up. It has been effectively used against the fungus that commonly infects toenails. However the essential oil should not be used for children under 12 years, pregnant women, or on sensitive skin, and is best administered by a qualified Aromatherapist.

Thyme is a Mediterranean perennial that grows well in hot sunny location with well-drained soil, and can tolerate drought. Propagation is by seed, cuttings, and division of rooted sections.

Wild thyme plantWild thyme plant
Author: Donovan Govan (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Thymus vulgaris 'Common thyme'Thymus vulgaris 'Common thyme'
Author: Magnus Manske (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

ThymeThyme
Author: Dlanglois (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Thymus vulgarisThymus vulgaris
Author: Kurt Stueber (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Dried thymeDried thyme
Author: Henna (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic)

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