Thymus L.

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Greenland, Temp. & Subtropical Eurasia to NE. Tropical Africa.


Harley, R.M. et al. (2004). Labiatae, in The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (K. Kubitzki, ed. in chief) VI: 167-275. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York.

Morphology General Habit
Subshrubs or shrubs, often herbaceous above, usually gynodioecious, aromatic
Morphology Stem
Stems usually ± quadrangular, hairy all round, on two opposite sides or only on angles
Morphology Leaves
Leaves small, usually entire, frequently revolute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence of verticillasters forming a terminal, condensed, often spiciform or interrupted thyrse
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Bracts
Bracts leaf-like or not, sometimes coloured
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Bracteoles
Bracteoles inconspicuous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 2-lipped, 5-lobed (3/2), sometimes nearly actinomorphic, ± campanulate or cylindrical, 10-nerved, lobes triangular or setaceous (in t. mastichina l.), rarely posterior lip entire, anterior lip upcurved or spreading, throat bearded
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla 2-lipped, or rarely nearly actinomorphic, 4-lobed (1/3), white, cream, pink or violet, posterior lip ± rounded, emarginate, straight, anterior rectangular to suborbicular, rounded, spreading, tube ± cylindrical, sometimes very long (to 20 mm)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 4, exserted or not, thecae parallel, distinct
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Stigma
Stigma-lobes ± equal
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets ovoid, smooth.
2n = 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 42, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 84, 90.  About 220 species. Many hybrids have been recorded.  Sectional classification after Jalas (1971): Micantes Velen., Mastichina (Mill.) Benth., Piperella Willk., Pseudothymbra Benth., Thymus,
Open areas
Europe, Mediterranean region and Macaronesia, Asia, Northern Africa and mountains of Ethiopia, Southern Greenland.  Introduced to New Zealand, Canada, U.S.A. and Mexico.

Aromatic, ornamental and medicinal plants used as flavouring, source of essential oils and honey.

Native to:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Amur, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Central European Rus, China North-Central, Chita, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Føroyar, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Inner Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Japan, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Madeira, Magadan, Manchuria, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Primorye, Qinghai, Romania, Sakhalin, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sinai, South European Russi, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya, Yugoslavia

Introduced into:

Connecticut, Cuba, Delaware, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Illinois, Leeward Is., Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New York, New Zealand South, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Québec, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

Thymus L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Ash [1011], Ethiopia 35490.000 No
Haussknecht, H.C. [854], Armenia K001070087 Yes
Eig, A. [s.n.], Syria K001070088 Yes

First published in Sp. Pl.: 590 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Lamiaceae Key Genus Fact Sheets

  • Cephalotos Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 189 (1763).
  • Harley RM, Atkins S, Budantsev AL, Cantino PD, Conn BJ, Grayer R, Harley MM, de Kok RPJ, Krestovskaja T, Morales R, Paton AJ, Ryding O, and Upson T. 2004. Labiatae, in The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (K. Kubitzki, ed. in chief) VI: 167-275. Sp
  • Jalas & Kaleva, Fedde Rep. 81: 93-106 (1970)
  • Jalas, Bot J. Linn. Soc. 64: 247-271 (1971), rev. reg.
  • Mastichina Mill., Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4 (1754).
  • Morales, Ruizia 3: 1-324 (1986), rev. reg.
  • Serpyllum Mill., Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4 (1754).
  • Thymus L., Sp. Pl. 2: 590 (1753)

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Science Photographs

    Copyright applied to individual images

  • Lamiaceae Key Genus Fact Sheets

    Nina Davies, Gemma Bramley and Don Kirkup, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew