Thymus pulegoides, commonly known as Broadleaf thyme is a very large leafed species regarded by many as the ultimate culinary thyme. It has a history going back to the Middle ages.
Broad-leaved thyme is a creeping dwarf evergreen sub-shrub with strongly aromatic leaves, and lilac pink flowers in early summer. Growing to around 25cm (12in) tall by 25cm (10in) wide, it is suitable for cultivation in any well-drained alkaline or neutral soil in full sun.
This variety is very ornamental, it is rather similar to Thymus serpyllum but is larger, the leaves are wider and all the stems form flowering shoots. It can be useful as a groundcover, perfect for planting in between paving stones or cascading off the edge of a raised bed, it makes a lovely, summer flowering scented edge for a sunny herb garden.
Broad-leaved thyme has large, fleshy dark green, round leaves. It is an excellent culinary thyme and is considered to be the thyme of choice by many chefs and home cooks alike. The aromatic leaves have a stronger flavour and are much easier to use than narrow leaved varieties. The leaves are softer and can be used whole or chopped, snipped into little bits they just melt into the dish.
It can be used as regular thyme, a useful ingredient in bouquet garni, stuffing’s and sauces, and can be added at the beginning of cooking to almost any meat dish. It is also good in herb breads, butters and tomato based sauces. For medicinal purposes, thyme is used as an antibacterial herb and is good for coughs.
Thyme prefers well drained dry soil and full sun. It is a hardy perennial that flowers in July and August with elongated whorled flower spikes. The highly fragrant flowers are highly attractive to bees and other beneficial pollinating insects.
Sowing: Sow in spring or autumn at around 13°C (55°F)
Sow seed on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Do not cover as they need light to germinate. Cover the seed container with a piece of glass or clear plastic and leave in a position which receives diffused light. Once some of the seeds have germinated air should be admitted gradually. Germination 15 to 30 days.
When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost. For best results, provide any ordinary, well-drained soil in full sun. When transplanting pinch out the tip of each stem to encourage the plants to bush outwards. Plant 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart.
Thyme, like Rosemary and Lavender is one of those plants which will not re-grow if cut back too hard, if you need to trim them wait until new growth buds appear in the spring and cut back to the lower ones.
Leaves can be harvested for fresh use throughout the summer; the flavour is best just before flowering. Harvest sparingly the first year.
To store, cut the stems just as the flowers start to open in spring and again in late summer and hang in small bunches to dry. Save some sprigs in olive oil.
One thing to remember, fresh thyme has a softer flavour and is less intensive that dried thyme. Dried thyme has an added smokiness that goes well in spicy foods.. The dried herb surpasses the fresh one in intensity by a factor of two or three. This phenomenon can also be observed in both oregano and rosemary.
Thyme aids in the digestion of high fat foods, and is used to preserve meat.
Thyme is best known as one of the primary components in a classic bouquet garni. When combined with fresh sprigs of parsley and leaves of bay, it will enliven and give depth to the flavour of soups, stews and sauces.
Thyme is also a key element in the traditional, dried, aromatic blend Herbes de Provence and is one of the flavourings in the liqueur, Benedictine. Thyme honey, made when bees collect pollen from thyme flowers, is excellent.
Thyme is popular for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Tea preparations are used for sore throats and coughs as well as to improve general immune system functions.
It is used as an antiseptic lotion and mouth wash; as an ointment for skin affections and burns and perfumed with lavender, to keep off gnats and mosquitoes. It is also used for embalming corpses.
To make a tea: Use two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Add sage to the tea if you have a nagging cough. A stronger tea is useful as a mouthwash or rinse to treat sore gums.
The genus name Thyme derives from Latin thymus, which goes back to Greek thymon meaning 'spirit', originally meaning 'smoke' or 'to fumigate' (it is related to Latin fumus meaning 'smoke' or 'perfume') and the verb thyein meaning 'smoke, cure or offer an incense sacrifice'.
Thyme was used it as incense, for its balsamic odour. The antiseptic properties of Thyme were also fully recognised in classic times, there being a reference in Virgil's Georgics to its use as a fumigator, and Pliny tells us that, when burnt, it puts to flight all venomous creatures.
Most European languages have similarly related names all deriving from the Latin thymus.
Others derive the name from the Greek word thumus, signifying courage, the plant being held in ancient and mediaeval days to be a great source of invigoration, its cordial qualities inspiring courage.
Lady Northcote (in The Herb Garden) says that among the Greeks, Thyme denoted graceful elegance; 'to smell of Thyme' was an expression of praise, applied to those whose style was admirable. It was an emblem of activity, bravery and energy, and in the days of chivalry it was the custom for ladies to embroider a bee hovering over a sprig of Thyme on the scarves they presented to their knights.
The specific epithet pulegoides highlights its similarity to another species within Lamiaceae, Mentha pulegium, commonly known as Pennyroyal. Mentha pulegium is so named for its reputed power to drive away ants and fleas. Pulex being the Latin for flea, hence the Italian pulce and the French puce. This more strongly scented relative does not throw out runners and has elongated whorled flower spikes.
Thymus pulegoides, is occasionally mistakenly called Lemon-scented Thyme. It does not have a Lemon scent but - numerous cultivars have been bred, of which 'Aureus' does have lemon-scented gold leaves. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit and is the most commonly found cultivar.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 700 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 3000 seeds / gram Common Name Mother of thyme, Large thyme Other Common Names Wild thyme, Oregano-thyme Other Language Names FR: Thym pouliot, serpolet pouliot Family Lamiaceae Genus Thymus Species pulegoides Cultivar Broad Leaf Thyme Synonym Thymus alpestris, Thymus chamaedrys, Thymus montanus Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Mauve-pink flowers Natural Flower Time Summer Height 25cm (12in) Spread 25cm (12in) Position Full Sun Soil Light Well Drained Soil Time to Sow Sow in spring or autumn Germination 15 to 30 days at 13°C (55°F) Harvest Harvest sparingly the first year. Time to Harvest The flavour is best just before flowering.