Thyme (pronEng|ˈtaɪm) is a well known herb; in common usage the name may refer to either the
* any or all members of the plant genus "Thymus",
* common thyme, "Thymus vulgaris", and a few other species that are used as culinary herbs, and for other medicinal uses.


Ancient Egyptians used thyme in embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing that thyme was a source of courage. It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs".Grieve, Maud (Mrs.). "Thyme. A Modern Herbal". [ Hypertext version of the 1931 edition] . Accessed: February 9, 2008.] . In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life. [ [ Thyme (thymus)] , The English Cottage Garden Nursery.]


Thyme is widely cultivated for its strong flavour, which is due to its content of thymol.Huxley, A., ed. (1992). "New RHS Dictionary of Gardening". Macmillan.] .

Thyme is best cultivated in a hot sunny location with well drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring and thereafter grows as a perennial. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or by dividing rooted sections of the plant. It tolerates drought well. [ [ Herb File. Global Garden] .]

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.


Culinary use

Thyme is a good source of iron and is used widely in cooking. Thyme is a basic ingredient in French, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Persian, Spanish, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines, and in those derived from them. It is also widely used in Arab and Caribbean cuisines.

Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs.

Thyme, while flavourful, does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. In French cuisine, along with bay and parsley it is a common component of the "bouquet garni", and of "herbes de Provence". In some Levantine countries, the condiment "za'atar" (Arabic for thyme) contains thyme as a vital ingredient.

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavourful but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. While summer-seasonal, fresh thyme is often available year-round.

Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced ½ to 1" apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. If the recipe does not specify fresh or dried, assume that it means fresh.

Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g. in a "bouquet garni"), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies 'bunch' or 'sprig' it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.

Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork. Leaves are often chopped.

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. Dried, and especially powdered thyme occupies less space than fresh, so less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb, use one third as much dried as fresh thyme - a little less if it is ground. Substitution is often more complicated than that because recipes can specify sprigs and sprigs can vary in yield of leaves. Assuming a 4" sprig (they are often somewhat longer), estimate that 6 sprigs will yield one tablespoon of leaves. The dried equivalent is 1:3, so substitute 1 teaspoon of dried or ¾ tsp of ground thyme for 6 small sprigs. [ [ Fresh or Dried? Cooking with herbs and spices] ]

As with bay, thyme is slow to release its flavours so it is usually added early in the cooking process.

Medicinal use

The essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is made up of 20-55% thymol.Thymus Vulgaris. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company. p. 1184.] Thymol, an antiseptic, is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. [Pierce, Andrea. 1999. American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York: Stonesong Press. P. 338-340.] Before the advent of modern antibiotics, it was used to medicate bandages. It has also been shown to be effective against the fungus that commonly infects toenails. [Ramsewak RS, et al. In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against 'toe nail fungus' pathogens. Phytother Res. 2003 Apr;17(4):376-9.]

A tea made by infusing the herb in water can be used for cough and bronchitis. Medicinally thyme is used for respiratory infections in the form of a tincture, tisane, salve, syrup or by steam inhalationFact|date=March 2007. Because it is antiseptic, thyme boiled in water and cooled is very effective against inflammation of the throat when gargled 3 times a day.Fact|date=July 2007 The inflammation will normally disappear in 2 - 5 days. Other infections and wounds can be dripped with thyme that has been boiled in water and cooled.Fact|date=July 2007

In traditional Jamaican childbirth practice, thyme tea is given to the mother after delivery of the baby. Its oxytocin-like effect causes uterine contractions and more rapid delivery of the placenta but this was said by Sheila KitzingerFact|date=February 2008 to cause an increased prevalence of retained placenta.

Important species

"Thymus vulgaris" (Common Thyme or Garden Thyme) is a commonly used culinary herb. It also has medicinal uses. Common thyme is a Mediterranean perennial which is best suited to well-drained soils and enjoys full sun.

"Thymus herba-barona" (Caraway Thyme) is used both as a culinary herb and a groundcover, and has a strong caraway scent due to the chemical carvone.

"Thymus × citriodorus" (Citrus Thyme; hybrid "T. pulegioides" × "T. vulgaris") is also a popular culinary herb, with cultivars selected with aromas of various "Citrus" fruit (lemon thyme, etc.)

"Thymus pseudolanuginosus" (Woolly Thyme) is not a culinary herb, but is grown as a ground cover.

"Thymus serpyllum" (Wild Thyme) is an important nectar source plant for honeybees. All thyme species are nectar sources, but wild thyme covers large areas of droughty, rocky soils in southern Europe (Greece is especially famous for wild thyme honey) and North Africa, as well as in similar landscapes in the Berkshire Mountains and Catskill Mountains of the northeastern US.

Popular cultivars

There are a number of different cultivars of thyme with established or growing popularity, including:
* English thyme -- the most common
* Lemon thyme -- smells of lemons
* Variegated lemon thyme -- with bi-color leaves
* Orange thyme -- an unusually low-growing, ground cover thyme that smells like orange
* Creeping thyme -- the lowest-growing of the widely used thymes, good for walkways
* Silver thyme -- white/cream variegated
* Summer thyme -- unusually strong flavor

Thyme names

* Spanish-speaking countries (Spain, Mexico, Argentina, etc.): Tomillo
* Portuguese-speaking countries (Portugal, Brazil, etc.): Tomilho
* Arabic-speaking countries (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, etc.): Za'atar
* Malta: Saghtar (pronounced 'saatar')
* France: [ Thym] . Provence thyme is also called "farigoule" [ [ Liber Herbarum II: Thymus vulgaris] ] .
* Poland: Tymianek
* Sweden: Timjan
* Russia: [Тимьян Тимьян] (transliteration: "tim'yan")
* Israel: Koranit (Hebrew: [קורנית קורנית] ); also Timin (spoken _he. טימין)
* Lithuania: Chiobrelis
* Romania: Cimbru
* Turkey: Kekik
* Bulgaria: Mashterka (Cyrillic: Мащерка)




* S. S. Tawfik, M. I. Abbady, Ahmed M. Zahran and A. M. K. ‎Abouelalla. Therapeutic Efficacy Attained with Thyme ‎Essential Oil Supplementation Throughout γ-irradiated ‎Rats. Egypt. J. Rad. Sci. Applic., 19(1): 1-22 (2006).‎‏ ‏‎ ‎

* [ Flora of China: "Thymus"]
* [ Flora Europaea: "Thymus"]
*Rohde, E. S. (1920). "A Garden of Herbs".

See also

* Cat thyme

External links

* [ Herb teas and old remedies: Thyme] (fr. with translator)
* [ Plants for a Future, database entry]
* [ 'A Modern Herbal' (Grieves 1931)]
* [ Website dedicated to Thyme, including research on nomenclature, synonyms list, thyme in the wild, growing thyme in the garden, Plant Portraits. (Margaret Easter, Thymus ICRA)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thyme — (t[imac]m), n. [OE. tyme, L. thymum, Gr. qy mon, qy mos; cf. qy ein, to sacrifice, qy os a sacrifice, offering, incense: cf. F. thym; perhaps so named because of its sweet smell. Cf. {Fume}, n.] (Bot.) Any plant of the labiate genus {Thymus}. The …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • thyme — [ taım ] noun uncount a small plant with very small leaves used for adding flavor to food. Thyme is an herb …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • thyme — [taım] n [U] [Date: 1400 1500; : Old French; Origin: thym, from Latin, from Greek thymon, from thyein to burn something as an offering to a god ] a plant used for giving food a special taste …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • thyme — (n.) plant of the mint family, late 14c., from O.Fr. thym, tym (13c.), from L. thymum, from Gk. thymon, possibly from thyein burn as a sacrifice, which would indicate the plant was used as incense …   Etymology dictionary

  • thyme — ► NOUN ▪ a low growing aromatic plant of the mint family, used in cooking. ORIGIN Greek thumon, from thuein burn, sacrifice …   English terms dictionary

  • thyme — [tīm] n. [ME < MFr thym < L thymum < Gr thymon < thyein, to sacrifice, smoke < IE base * dheu > DULL] 1. any of a genus (Thymus, esp. T. vulgaris) of shrubby plants or aromatic herbs of the mint family, with white, pink, or red… …   English World dictionary

  • Thyme — Este artículo o sección necesita una revisión de ortografía y gramática. Puedes colaborar editándolo (lee aquí sugerencias para mejorar tu ortografía). Cuando se haya corregido, borra este aviso por favor …   Wikipedia Español

  • thyme — /tuym/; spelling pron. /thuym/, n. any of numerous plants belonging to the genus Thymus, of the mint family, including the common garden herb T. vulgaris, a low subshrub having narrow, aromatic leaves used for seasoning. [1350 1400; ME < L thymum …   Universalium

  • thyme — cy·clo·thyme; schiz·o·thyme; thyme; thyme·laea; thyme·lae·a·ce·ae; thyme·lae·a·les; …   English syllables

  • thyme — vaistinis čiobrelis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Notrelinių šeimos prieskoninis, vaistinis augalas (Thymus vulgaris), paplitęs Afrikos šiaurėje, Europos pietuose. Naudojamas maisto priedams (kvėpikliams) gaminti, iš jo gaunamas eterinis… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.