Wild thyme

Botanical Name :Thymus serpyllum
Family:    Lamiaceae
Genus:    Thymus
Species:T. serpyllum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:Lamiales

Synonyms: Other of Thyme. Serpyllum.

Common Names : Wild thyme , Creeping thyme, Breckland thyme,

Habitat:
Wild thyme is native to the palearctic zone of Europe and Asia. It is a plant of thin soils and can be found growing on sandy-soiled heaths, rocky outcrops, hills, banks, roadsides and riverside sand banks.

Description:
Wild thyme is a creeping dwarf evergreen shrub with woody stems and a taproot. It forms matlike plants that root from the nodes of the squarish, limp stems. The leaves are in opposite pairs, nearly stalkless, with linear elliptic round-tipped blades and untoothed margins. The plant sends up erect flowering shoots in summer. The usually pink or mauve flowers have a tube-like calyx and an irregular straight-tubed, hairy corolla. The upper petal is notched and the lower one is larger than the two lateral petals and has three flattened lobes which form a lip. Each flower has four projecting stamens and two fused carpels. The fruit is a dry, four-chambered schizocarp….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation: Wild Thyme will grow on any soil, but prefers light, sandy or gravel ground exposed to the sun.

Propagate by seeds, cuttings, or division of roots. Care must be taken to weed. Manure with farmyard manure in autumn or winter and nitrates in spring.

Cut when in full flower, in July and August, and dry in the same manner as Common Thyme.It is much picked in France, chiefly in the fields of the Aisne, for the extraction of its essential oil.

Propagation:         
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. 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Layering.

Edible  Uses:
Leaves are eaten raw in salads or added as a flavouring to cooked foods. 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. An aromatic tea is made from the leaves.

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Constituents;
When distilled, 100 kilos (about 225 lb.) of dried material yield 150 grams of essence (about 5 or 6 OZ.). It is a yellow liquid, with a weaker scent than that of oil of Thyme extracted from T. vulgaris, and is called oil of Serpolet. It contains 30 to 70 per cent of phenols: Thymol, Carvacrol, etc. It is made into an artificial oil, together with the oil of Common Thyme. In perfumery, oil of Serpolet is chiefly used for soap.

The flowering tops, macerated for 24 hours or so in salt and water, are made into a perfumed water.

Medicinal Uses:
In medicine, Wild Thyme or Serpolet has the same properties as Common Thyme, but to an inferior degree. It is aromatic, antiseptic, stimulant, antispasmodic, diuretic and emmenagogue.

The infusion is used for chest maladies and for weak digestion, being a good remedy for flatulence, and favourable results have been obtained in convulsive coughs, especially in whooping cough, catarrh and sore throat. The infusion, prepared with 1 OZ. of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water, is usually sweetened with sugar or honey and made demulcent by linseed or acacia. It is given in doses of 1 or more tablespoonfuls several times daily.

The infusion is also useful in cases of drunkenness, and Culpepper recommends it as a certain remedy taken on going to bed for ‘that troublesome complaint the nightmare,’ and says: ‘if you make a vinegar of the herb as vinegar of roses is made and annoint the head with it, it presently stops the pains thereof. It is very good to be given either in phrenzy or lethargy.’

Wild Thyme Tea, either drunk by itself or mixed with other plants such as rosemary, etc., is an excellent remedy for headache and other nervous affections.

Formerly several preparations of this plant were kept in shops, and a distilled spirit and water, which were both very fragrant.

 Other Uses:  Wild thyme is one of the plants on which the large blue butterfly larvae feed and it is also attractive to bees.Creeping and mounding variants of T. serpyllum are used as border plants and ground cover around gardens and stone paths. It may also be used to replace a bluegrass lawn to xeriscape low to moderate foot traffic areas due to its tolerance for low water and poor soils.

Numerous cultivars have been produced, of which ‘Pink Chintz’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.  A miniature creeping form is ‘Elfin’

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus_serpyllum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thywil17.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Thymus+serpyllum

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