Herb: Wild Thyme

Latin name: Thymus serpyllum

Synonyms: Thymus angustifolius

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Wild Thyme:

Wild thyme is a commonly used domestic remedy, being employed especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestive system. The whole plant is anthelmintic, strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, deodorant, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, sedative and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, catarrh, laryngitis, flatulent indigestion, painful menstruation, colic and hangovers. It is said to be effective in treating alcoholism. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. Externally, it is applied to minor injuries, mastitis, mouth, throat and gum infections etc. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled for the oil or dried for later use. The seeds are used as a vermifuge. Wild thyme contains all the medicinal properties of the more commonly used garden thyme (T. vulgaris), though in a lesser degree. An essential oil distilled from the leaves is used in the treatment of stress-related conditions, though it can cause allergic reactions.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Dry stony ground, open sandy heaths and grassland in East Anglia.

Edible parts of Wild Thyme:

Leaves - 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.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil from the leaves and flowering tops is used in perfumery, soaps, medicinally etc. It has fungicidal and disinfectant properties. About 150 grams of oil are obtained from 100 kilos of plant material. The dried flowers are used to repel moths from clothing. The growing plant is said to repel cabbage root fly. A good ground cover for a sunny position. It needs weeding for the first year or so. Plants are best spaced about 45cm apart each way. Plants are only satisfactory when young or growing luxuriantly - they are apt to become bare in patches otherwise.

Propagation of Wild Thyme:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry stony ground, open sandy heaths and grassland in East Anglia.

Known hazards of Thymus serpyllum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.