Thymus pulegioides L.

Large Thyme

Subshrub woody at the base, with erect or weak ascending stems rooting at the nodes, the tips always growing upwards, the older parts decumbent and rooting at the nodes. Not mat-forming, creeping prostrate shoots absent. Stems conspicuously 4-angled with 2 convex faces and 2 smaller concave surfaces, hairy on the angles and sometimes on the concave faces. Leaves to about 12 mm long, elliptic to broadly elliptic, petiolate, with veins on the lower surface conspicuous and not forming a continuous marginal vein, sparsely ciliate at the base but otherwise glabrous; apex obtuse. Young leaves can be almost circular. Flower head elongated, simple or branched, interrupted. Bracts similar to the leaves, as long as the flowers, and consequently more conspicuous than in t. polytrichus. Flowers rose-purple from Jan (in Melbourne) and thus one of the last thymes to flower.

W Europe

Creeping shoots absent, hairs conspicuous on the angles of the stem, leaves ovate, bracts conspicuous in the flowering head. An unnamed female cultivar with broad leaves is readily available as Pizza Thyme under the incorrect name T. nummularius. This may be the same as the American Oregano Thyme. More typical material of this variable species has been available as T. praecox var. arcticus, Shakespeare's Thyme. The deep flower colour typical of T. pulegioides may inspire application of the name T. 'Coccineus'. A deeply coloured cultivar, T. 'Kermesinus' is probably not grown in Australia.


One of several similar species in the Caucasus region is T. nummularius Bieb.; this plant of alpine meadows differs in its almost circular leaves, in the arrangement of hairs on the stem, and in the presence of a marginal vein on the leaves.

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.

Distribution map
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Asteranae
order      Lamiales
family       Lamiaceae
genus        Thymus L.