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Thyme (Thymus) is a genus of about 350 species of aromatic perennial herbs and sub-shrubs to 40 cm tall, in the Family Lamiaceae and native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. A number of species has some chemotypes. The stems tend to be narrow or even wiry; the leaves are evergreen in most species, arranged in opposite pairs, oval, entire, and small, 4-20 mm long. The flowers are in dense terminal heads, with an uneven calyx, with the upper lip three-lobed, and the lower cleft; the corolla is tubular, 4-10 mm long, and white, pink or purple.
Common Thyme or Garden Thyme, T. vulgaris is a commonly used culinary herb. It is a Mediterranean perennial which is best suited to well-drained soils and enjoys full sun.
Citrus Thyme T. x citriodorus (T. pulegioides x T. vulgaris) is also a popular culinary herb, with cultivars selected with flavours of various Citrus fruit.
Woolly Thyme (T. pseudolanuginosus) and Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) are not culinary herbs but are attractive ground covers.
Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) 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), as well as in similar landscapes in the Berkshire Mountains and Catskill Mountains of the northeastern US.
Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups and stews. It is used in French cuisine, where it is an important element in a bouquet garni, as well as in Herbes de Provence. It is also widely used in West Indian cuisine. In Jordan the condiment zahtar contains thyme as vital ingredient.
Thyme should be added early in cooking so that its oils have time to be released.
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