from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Common thyme ( Thymus vulgaris )

Euasterids I
Order : Mint family (Lamiales)
Family : Mint family (Lamiaceae)
Subfamily : Nepetoideae
Genre : Thyme
Scientific name

The thyme ( thymus , from ancient Greek θύμος thýmos ) or Quendel are a genus of plants within the family of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Some species and their varieties are medicinal and aromatic plants , the best known is the real thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ). The sand thyme ( Thymus serpyllum ), the lemon thyme ( Thymus × citriodorus ) and the broad-leaved thyme ( Thymus pulegioides ) are important in western culture and herbal medicine. The closely related heady thyme ( Thymbra capitata ) does not belong to the genus Thymus .


Illustration from Koehler's medicinal plants in lifelike images with brief explanatory texts , panel 39 of the sand thyme ( Thymus serpyllum )
Illustration from Flora Atlantica, sive, Historia plantarum quae in Atlante, agro Tunetano et Algeriensi crescunt , plate 128 from Thymus lanceolatus

Vegetative characteristics

Thyme species are perennial half bushes or shrubs . Occasionally they appear to be herbaceous, but at least at the base they are woody. They grow upright to prostrate, are occasionally lawn-forming and rooting on the stems . The stems can be hairy all around or only have hair on two opposite sides or on the edges.

The leaves are simple and entire or occasionally serrated. Often the edges are bent over. The hairiness of the leaves is very variable within the genus, they can be completely hairless to completely hairy.

Inflorescences and flowers

The inflorescences are composed like a spike and pulled apart like a whorl or can be head-shaped . They contain bracts that are either similar in shape to the leaves or can be designed very differently. The flowers can be stalked or sessile, usually they are accompanied by small bracts that are at the base of the pedicel .

The hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The calyx is more or less bell-shaped or cylindrical, usually traversed by ten veins and clearly two-lipped, with both lips sometimes being almost identical. The upper lip is set with three triangular teeth, but they are sometimes reduced to a single tooth. The two long triangular teeth of the lower lip can be curved upwards or splayed out. The throat is bearded and hairy. The crown is more or less tubular and divided into two lips, which can sometimes be almost identical. The corolla tube is sometimes very long and can then be up to 20 mm long. The coronet is divided into four lobes. The color of the crown can be white, cream, pink or purple, often there are translucent points in the crown throat or at the base of the crown lobes. The upper lip is more or less rounded, curved and straight. The lower lip and the lateral lobes are rectangular to almost circular, rounded and are perpendicular to the corolla tube.

The four stamens start in the upper half of the corolla tube and can be above it. The dust bags consist of two parallel bars . The plants can be gyno , then the stamens are receding or not pronounced. The tip of the stylus is branched.

Fruits and seeds

The fruits are egg-shaped nuts that contain round seeds .


Different species and their varieties are grown in gardens and horticultural companies. The thyme prefer light and dry locations with nutrient-poor and sandy soils and can be found on roadsides, on dry meadows and on walls.


In ancient Greece , thyme was used as an additive to incense, with which one achieved a stimulation of the mind and spirit. In the Middle Ages, thyme was already used as a valuable medicinal plant, for example for asthma or shortness of breath .

Today thyme is used in different ways. Species of the genus Thymus are used as dried or fresh culinary herbs , as a source of essential oils and oleoresins , as a garden plant and as a medicinal plant in folk medicine , homeopathy and increasingly also in classical medicine. However, only a small part of the species is of commercial importance, namely thymus mastichina , the sand thyme ( Thymus serpyllum ), the real thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ) and the yoke thyme ( Thymus zygis ), in addition to the one used here Systematic heady thyme ( Thymbra capitata ) that no longer belongs to the genus .

According to the European Pharmacopoeia, only the two types Thymus vulgaris and Thymus zygis or a mixture of both types are permitted for the production of the pharmaceutical drug thyme (Thymi herba) . Thymus serpyllum is the parent plant of the drug whalefish .

Ingredients and effects

Structural formula of thymol - main component of thyme essential oil

The essential oil (1.0–2.5%) determines the effectiveness of the real thyme . This mainly consists of the monoterpenes thymol (25–50%) and carvacrol (3–10%) as well as p-cymene, borneol and linalool . The essential oil has a secretolytic , secretomotor and bronchospasmolytic effect. In addition, there is an anti-inflammatory effect due to thymol and carvacrol by inhibiting cyclooxygenase .

Systematics and distribution

The genus Thymus was established by Carl von Linné . Synonyms for Thymus L. are: Cephalotos Adans. , Mastichina Mill. , Serpyllum Mill.

The genus Thymus belongs to the subtribe Menthinae from the tribe Mentheae in the subfamily Nepetoideae within the family Lamiaceae .

The distribution areas are in Africa, Europe and temperate Asia. The center of biodiversity is the Mediterranean.

Sections and species with their distribution

The genus Thymus is divided into eight sections, some of which are divided into subsections and contain a total of 214 to 245 species:

Section Micantes (Velen.) Menitsky :

Mastichina section : thymus mastichina

Mastichina Section (Mill.) Benth. :

Section Piperella :

Section Teucrioides Jalas :

  • Thymus teucrioides Boiss. & Spruner
  • Thymus hartvigii R.Morales : It comes in two subspecies in Greece before:
    • Thymus hartvigii subsp. hartvigii : It occurs in south-central and southern Greece.
    • Thymus hartvigii subsp. macrocalyx (Hartvig) R.Morales : It occurs from south-central Greece to the western Aegean islands.
  • Thymus leucospermus Hartvig : It occurs in Greece.
Section Pseudothymbra : Thymus longiflorus

Section of Pseudothymbra Benth. :

Subsection Pseudothymbra (Benth.) R.Morales :
  • Thymus lotocephalus G.López & R.Morales : This endemic occurs only in southern Portugal.
  • Shaggy thyme ( Thymus villosus L. ): It occurs in three subspecies in Portugal and Spain:
    • Thymus villosus subsp. lusitanicus (Boiss.) Cout. : It occurs in western Portugal and in south-central Spain.
    • Thymus villosus subsp. velascoi R.Morales & G.López : It occurs in central Spain around Toledo.
    • Thymus villosus subsp. villosus : It occurs in western and southwestern Portugal.
  • Thymus longiflorus Boiss.
  • Thin-skinned thyme ( Thymus membranaceus Boiss. ): This endemic occurs only in south-eastern Spain.
  • Thymus moroderi Pau ex Martínez : This endemic occurs only in southeastern Spain.
  • Thymus munbyanus Boiss. & Reut. : It occurs in four subspecies in Morocco and Algeria:
    • Thymus munbyanus subsp. abylaeus (Font Quer & Maire) Greuter & Burdet : It occurs in Morocco.
    • Thymus munbyanus subsp. ciliatus (Desf.) Greuter & Burdet : It occurs in Algeria and Morocco.
    • Thymus munbyanus subsp. coloratus (Boiss. & Reut.) Greuter & Burdet : It occurs in Algeria and Morocco.
    • Thymus munbyanus subsp. munbyanus : It occurs from northern Morocco to northwestern Algeria.
  • Thymus bleicherianus pomel : It occurs in Morocco.
  • Thymus funkii Coss. : It occurs in three subspecies, all three of which are only found in southeastern Spain:
    • Thymus funkii subsp. burilloi Sánchez-Gómez
    • Thymus funkii subsp. funkii
    • Thymus funkii subsp. sabulicola (Coss.) Sánchez-Gómez
Subsection Anomali (Rouy) R.Morales :
Thymus section : thymus hyemalis
Thymus section : real thyme ( Thymus vulgaris )
Thymus section : yoke thyme ( Thymus zygis )

Thymus section :

Thymastra subsection :
Thymus subsection :
Section Hyphodromi : Thymus spinulosus

Section Hyphodromi (A. Kern.) Halácsy :

Subsection Subbracteati (Klokov) Jalas :
Serpyllastrum subsection :
Subsection Thymbropsis Jalas ex R.Morales :

Section Serpyllum (Mill.) Benth. :

Insulares Jalas subsection :
Subsection Kotschyani (Klokov) Jalas :
Subsection Pseudopiperella Jalas :
Subsection Isolepides :
Serpyllum section : Thymus alpestris
Serpyllum section : Broad-leaved thyme ( Thymus pulegioides )
Serpyllum section : Thymus pulegioides subsp. pannonicus
Alternatives subsection :
Serpyllum section : early flowering thyme ( Thymus praecox )
Serpyllum section : Thymus pulcherrimus
Serpyllum section : Thymus quinquecostatus
Subsection Pseudomarginati (Heinr.Braun ex Borbás) Jalas :
Subsection Serpyllum :

No longer belongs to the genus Thymus :


There are numerous hybrids . Here is a selection:

  • Lemon thyme ( Thymus × citriodorus (Pers.) Schreb. = Thymus pulegioides × Thymus vulgaris )
  • Thymus × dimorphus Klokov & Des.-Shost. (= Thymus calcareus × thymus pulegioides subsp. Marschallianus )
  • Thymus × oblongifolius exchange (Syn .: Thymus × podolicus Klokov & Des.-Shost. = Thymus pulegioides × Thymus serpyllum ).
  • Thymus × Tschernjaievii Klokov & Des.-Shost. (Syn .: Thymus × czernjajevii Klokov & Des.-Shost. = Thymus pallasianus × Thymus pulegioides subsp. Pannonicus )

Botanical history

Before Linnaeus

Thyme is already mentioned in writings from the 1st century. For example, Pedanios Dioscurides spoke of a plant called thymo . According to a translation from the 16th century of the work of Dioscurides, however, a plant of the genus Satureja is meant. Also Pliny the Elder mentioned in his Naturalis Historia one white and one black shape of thyme.

Linnés generic concepts

Carl von Linné has largely adopted his knowledge of thyme from other authors, and the concept of the genus often changes in his publications. In 1737 he described six species in Hortus Cliffortianus , two of which are not included in the genus, but in Satureja or Acinos . In Hortus Upsaliensis from 1747 only two species are mentioned, namely Thymus vulgaris and Thymus mastichina . With the introduction of the binary nomenclature in the first edition of Species Plantarum , however, he again described eight species and today's Thymus mastichina as Satureja mastichina . In the second edition, this species is again assigned to the thyme, but Thymus pulegioides is no longer listed. Another species, Thymus piperella , was described by Linnaeus in 1767 in the 12th edition of the Systema Naturae .

According to Linnaeus

The first newly described species of the genus after Linnaeus is the thymus caespititius described by Felix de Avellar Brotero in 1804 . Other species from Portugal were described in 1809 by Johann Centurius von Hoffmannsegg and Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link . A first division of the genus into sections comes from George Bentham , who in 1834 divided the sections Mastichina , Serpyllum and Pseudothymbra .

Further initial descriptions come from the Swiss botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier , who mainly described species from the Iberian Peninsula , but also from northern Africa , Greece and Turkey and also set up the section Pseudothymbra . A division of the genus into the five sections Mastichina , Zygis , Piperella , Serpyllum and Pseudothymbra comes from Heinrich Moritz Willkomm and Johan Martin Christian Lange in 1868 . Further section concepts come from John Isaac Briquet , who edited the mint family in Adolf Engler's The Natural Plant Families and set up two sections, and from Josef Velenovský , who published a monograph of the genus in 1906 and recognized ten sections there.

Much of the more recent authors who have contributed to the study of the genus are from Spain. However, there are also a significant number of researchers studying the genus outside of Spain.


  • Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup, Francisco Sáez (ed.): Thyme: The Genus Thymus (= Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles. 24). Taylor & Francis, London, 2002, ISBN 0-415-28488-0 .
  • Xi-wen Li, Ian C. Hedge: Thymus. In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven (Ed.): Flora of China . tape 17 : Verbenaceae through Solanaceae . Science Press / Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis 1994, ISBN 0-915279-24-X , pp. 233 (English, online ). (Sections Description, Distribution and Systematics)

Individual evidence

  1. Eckehart J. Jäger, Friedrich Ebel, Peter Hanelt, Gerd K. Müller (eds.): Exkursionsflora von Deutschland . Founded by Werner Rothmaler. tape 5 : Herbaceous ornamental and useful plants . Springer, Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8274-0918-8 .
  2. a b c d e f g h i j Ramón Morales: The history, botany and taxonomy of the genus Thymus. In: Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup, Francisco Sáez (ed.): Thyme: The Genus Thymus (= Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles. 24). Taylor & Francis, London, 2002, ISBN 0-415-28488-0 , pp. 1-43.
  3. Manfred Bocksch: The practical book of medicinal plants. blv, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-8354-0235-5 .
  4. ^ Brian M. Lawrence, Arthur O. Tucker: The genus Thymus as a source of commercial products. Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup, Francisco Sáez (ed.): Thyme: The Genus Thymus (= Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles. 24). Taylor & Francis, London, 2002, ISBN 0-415-28488-0 , pp. 252-262.
  5. Antonio Zarzuelo, Esperanza Crespo: The medical and non-medical use of thyme. In: Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup, Francisco Sáez (ed.): Thyme: The Genus Thymus (= Medicinal and aromatic plants: industrial profiles. 24). Taylor & Francis, London, 2002, ISBN 0-415-28488-0 , pp. 263-290.
  6. Rudolf Hänsel, Otto Sticher: Pharmakognosie - Phytopharmazie. 9th edition. Springer Medicine, Heidelberg 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-00962-4 , pp. 1023-1024.
  7. Siegfried Bäumler: Medicinal Plant Practice Today. Urban & Fischer, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-437-57271-5 , p. 412.
  8. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo ep eq er es et eu ev ew ex ey ez Rafaël Govaerts (Ed.): Thymus. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Thymus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved January 13, 2018.

Web links

Wiktionary: Quendel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Thyme  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Thyme ( Thymus )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files