Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus (Ronniger) Kerguélen

Wild Thyme

Very variable, prostrate shrub with creeping or arching stems. Stems with hairs on the opposite faces, sometimes sparse on the other 2 surfaces. Leaves petiolate, narrowly elliptic, ciliate either at the base or all round, glabrous or with scattered long hairs on the upper surface and occasionally the under surface. Flower heads variable in width from 15 to 25 mm, on vertical shoots only or ending most shoots, usually elongating during flowering. [T. praecox author not Opiz subsp. arcticus (Durand) Jalas, T. drucei Ronniger]

UK,W Europe

Creeping vegetative shoots; stems with hairs on 2 opposite faces, flowers in wide heads on erect sideshoots. Leaves ciliate.

T. polytrichus is a polyploid species probably originating from T. serpyllum and T. pulegioides. Plants can be found wild in Britain that are similar to each species.


T. serpyllum, in Britain, where it is assumed that most of our thyme cultivars arose, differs in having stems that are equally hairy all round, glabrous leaves, and a tendency for the creeping vegetative shoots to turn up at the tip. It is probably not in cultivation in Australia. Most cultivars previously attributed to T. serpyllum probably belong to subsp. britannicus.

Source: Lumley, P. (2002). Thymus. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Albus'

Plants in Australia are prostrate with glabrous ciliate leaves; the inflorescence is 25 mm wide; flowers are hermaphrodite.

A general name for white-flowering variants.

Perhaps more correctly called var. albus.

Various named cultivars are grown in the UK and USA.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Annie Hall'

Prostrate, leaves to 7 mm long, ciliate all round, occasionally with hairs on the upper surface, hermaphrodite, flower head about 20 mm wide, flowers mid-lilac.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Coccineus'

Prostrate purple stems, leaves small, to 6 mm long. Inflorescence 13 mm wide; flowers deep rose-purple, female. Plants available under this name may have paler flowers and be incorrectly named.

See also T. pulegioides.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Doone Valley'

Prostrate, regularly branched, leaves broadly ovate, with few cilia, glabrous, dark green, gold-variegated, most evident from autumn to spring. Flower heads about 15 mm wide, soon elongating, bracts conspicuous, flowers hermaphrodite, rose purple. Lemon-scented.

This distinctive cultivar is probably of hybrid origin.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Elfin'

Tiny mounding plant to 20 cm wide, internodes very short; leaves 2-3 mm long, ciliate, upper leaf surface glabrous.

Leaves narrower than T. 'Minimus'.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Eureka'

Prostrate, with yellowish spoon-shaped to elliptical leaves, basal cilia prominent but lacking hairs on either surface. Flower heads small, shortly stalked, about 10 mm wide, upper lip of calyx ciliate.

A newly named cultivar said to have a fragrance similar to garden thyme, it has been regarded as a cultivar of T. vulgaris, to which it bears no other resemblance.

Retains its yellow colour through the summer.

Possibly of hybrid origin. [T. vulgaris hort 'Aureus' in part]. Unlike the British T. vulgaris hort. 'Aureus', the Australian plant is not a golden cultivar of T. pulegioides.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Lars Hall'

Very similar to T. 'Annie Hall' but leaves with marginal cilia confined to the lower half of the leaf, flowers slightly paler and bluer in colour with markings on the lower lip more prominent. Heads raised less above the mat of leaves.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Lemon Curd'

Lemon-scented variant.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Magic Carpet'

Prostrate, leaves ciliate all round; unusual because the flowering shoots are not erect and the plant retains its pre-flowering appearance of a mat of prostrate stems even during flowering. Flower heads about 15 mm wide. Flowers lilac, hermaphrodite.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Minimus'

Regularly branched, very prostrate thyme with leaves 2-4 mm long that are ciliate and have long hairs on the upper surface; flowers lavender.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Pink Chintz'

Foliage greyish, flowers salmon pink.

This plant, grown in Britain, clearly differs from the plant known as T. 'Pink Chintz' in Australia. See T. 'Soft Blush'.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Purpureum'

A name of dubious status, small ciliate leaves to 6 mm long, flower head about 15 mm wide, soon elongating, flowers few, pale lilac, female, anthers absent.

Thymus polytrichus subsp. brittannicus 'Rainbow Falls'

Creeping and arching stems present, leaves about 7 mm long, ovate to elliptic, hairy above and below, variegated, some leaves with yellow tips or margins, much more conspicuous autumn to spring. Flower heads about 13 mm wide, elongated. Flowers female, lilac, with no markings on lower lip, upper calyx lobes not ciliate.