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Lemon Thyme Thymus pulegioides

Phonetic Spelling
THY-mus pul-eg-ee-OY-dees
Description

Broad-Leaved Thyme is a fragrant, dwarf, woody evergreen that grows in sandy areas, roadsides, hills, or rocky areas. It measures 8-12 inches tall and 8-12 inches wide. It is also an herb and a member of the Lamiaceae or Mint family. It is reportedly very similar to Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum.) Other common names for Broad-Leaved Thyme are Larger Wild Thyme, Large Thyme, and Lemon Thyme. The plant may be used as an ornamental groundcover or as an herb. It is ideal for flavoring chicken or fish dishes. A strong tea can be made from one of its cultivars known as 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea.'

The evergreen shrub is a native of Europe and Northwest China. Its habitats include grasslands, park lawns, and roadsides. 

The origin of the word "thyme" is from the Greek word thumos, which means "courage." During the Medieval Times, thyme was thought to have been an emblem of bravery. The word "thyme" may also have been derived from the Greek word thymos, meaning "perfume." The plants of this genus typically, are very fragrant. The species name, pulegioides, is derived from the Latin word pulegium and means "like pennyroyal." This references another plant known as European Pennyroyal.

Broad-Leafed Thyme performs best in well-drained sandy or loamy soils and prefers full sun. It is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance. If used for culinary purposes, it is best to harvest the leaves before the flowers open.

The common method of propagation is by division in the spring or semi-hard cuttings in the mid to late summer.

The plant forms a mound and grows taller and more erect than Creeping Thyme. The edges of the stems are hairy, and all the stems have flowers. The flowers are tiny, tubular, and rose-purple in color. They appear in July and August. The leaves vary from dark green to variegated depending on the cultivar. The fruit is a schizocarp.

Broad-Leafed Thyme attracts butterflies and bees. It is deer and rabbit resistant and drought tolerant. This evergreen shrub would be a wonderful addition to a patio garden, rock garden, or cottage garden. It is perfect as a border or container gardening.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are ovate and wider than Creeping Thyme
  • All the stems flower
  • Has a strong scent
  • Tiny tubular rose-purple flower
  • Taller and more erect than Creeping Thyme

Pests, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

There are no serious insect or disease problems provided that the plant is not overwatered or in poorly drained soil.

 

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aureus'
    Lemon scented variegated green with golden edged foliage, pale lilac flowers
  • 'Bertram Anderson'
    Gold foliage, purple flowers, no strong citrus scent
  • 'Foxley'
    Green and cream variegated leaves, pink flowers
  • 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea'
    Large dark green leaves, pink flowers, leaves used to make a strong tea
'Aureus', 'Bertram Anderson', 'Foxley', 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea'
Tags:
#cultivars#drought tolerant#wildlife plants#fragrant leaves#honey bees#nectar plant#rabbit resistant#playground#herb garden#deer resistant#pollinator plant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#herb#stormwater demo garden orange co
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aureus'
    Lemon scented variegated green with golden edged foliage, pale lilac flowers
  • 'Bertram Anderson'
    Gold foliage, purple flowers, no strong citrus scent
  • 'Foxley'
    Green and cream variegated leaves, pink flowers
  • 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea'
    Large dark green leaves, pink flowers, leaves used to make a strong tea
'Aureus', 'Bertram Anderson', 'Foxley', 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea'
Tags:
#cultivars#drought tolerant#wildlife plants#fragrant leaves#honey bees#nectar plant#rabbit resistant#playground#herb garden#deer resistant#pollinator plant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#herb#stormwater demo garden orange co
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Thymus
    Species:
    pulegioides
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The leaves of the plant contain an essential oil that is used in making perfumes, antiseptics, expectorants, and deodorants. The lemon-scented leaves of some cultivars are used as a culinary herb to flavor foods and to make tea.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe to Northwest China
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Altay, Austria, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Central European Russia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East European Russia, Finland, Franc, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungry, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Krasnoyarsk, Krym, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sicilia, South European Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, West Siberia, Xinjiang, and Yugoslavia; Introduced: Canada--Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec; New Zealand, Primorye, USA--CT, DE, ME. MA, MI, NH, NY, OR, PA, VT, VA, and WA
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar-rich flowers attract butterflies and bees. Pollinated by insects.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer and rabbit resistant. Drought tolerant. Virtually disease and pest free.
    Edibility:
    The leaves may be used as a flavoring in foods such as chicken and fish. The leaves of the cultivar, 'Pennsylvania Dutch Tea,' are used to make a strong tea.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is dried schizocarp with four chambers containing the seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are 0.25 inches in size, tubular, hairy, rose-purple blooms that occur from July-August. The corolla is irregular. The upper lip of the corolla is notched, and the lower lip is three-lobed. There are four stamens that protrude from the corolla.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Good Dried
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green with reddish spots along the entire margin. Some cultivars' leaves are variegated green with golden edges or cream-colored edges. The leaves appear opposite, simple, and linear to ovate in shape. They typically have a strong scent.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil
    Rabbits