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Large thyme

Scientific name: Thymus pulegioides
The aromatic fragrance of Large thyme can punctuate a summer walk over a chalk grassland. It is an evergreen that grows low to the ground, with erect spikes of tiny, lilac flowers appearing over summer.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 25cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to September

About

Large thyme, also known as 'Broad-leaved thyme', is a low-growing, evergreen and aromatic shrub that is mainly found on chalk grassland, as well as on sand dunes and heathland.
Walk across a chalk grassland in summer and its fragrance will punctuate the warm air around you - a delightful, sensory experience. The erect spikes of tiny, lilac flowers appear from June to September.

How to identify

Large thyme has woody, square, reddish stems with hairs on each of the 'corners'. Its tiny flowers are pinky-purple and grouped in an oblong head. Its oval leaves sit in opposite pairs on the stem and are aromatic when crushed.

Distribution

Found in Southern England and East Anglia, but absent from the South West.

Did you know?

The thyme most commonly used in cooking is the Mediterranean herb, thymus Vulgaris. Occasionally, this species can be found growing on old walls and banks having been thrown-out with garden rubbish.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition - supporting plants and invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.