Thymus vulgaris


Thymus vulgaris originates from the Mediterranean. It is well adapted for growing in dry hot weather. It prefers light, permeable soil somewhat rich in organic matter & mineral fertilizing elements. The sandy soil found inland around the Mediterranean Sea is basic, low pH, and preferred by thyme. Areas where Thymus vulgaris naturally occurs are northern Italy, southern France and eastern Spain. However, it can also be found in similar climates around the world and is found in many gardens. The plant is hardy and has many adaptations to help it survive. Thyme’s life cycle varies in the Mediterranean and mountainous areas. For example, non-phenolic thyme flowers in autumn unlike the phenolic thyme which flowers earlier in summer.

This relief map shows the where the different altitudes around the Mediterranean Sea. Phenolic thyme is more frequent at lower altitudes.

Map of Medieranean provided courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Mediterranean climate is preferred by phenolic thyme. Conditions are warmer and drier. However, these conditions are also preferred by bugs. Therefore, plants in these areas have phenol and yield more essential oil.  Essential oils are important to survival in this area. Thymol is the essential oil found in Thymus vulgaris.

Plants must endure harsher conditions in the mountainous areas. The plants that live at higher altitudes tend to be non-phenolic, and there are no phenolic plants above 400m. On the bright side, there are fewer pests at this altitude. A trade off occurs rather than putting up with bugs; plants must live in less ideal conditions. These areas are colder and wetter, snow melting and more rain. Another difficulty mountain thyme must face is increased wind.


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