Wild Thyme

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Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus

Lamiaceae

Graphic Wild Thyme.JPG

This tiny plants grow little more than a centimetre tall, forming dense mats. On one of my favourite spots I have been picking it or just looking at it for years, but it often takes ten minutes to find as the leaves are also tiny and the plant inconspicuous against the other diminutive plants. This changes in the summer when the pink flowers reveal its several locations. It is a plant of dry grassland and rocky uplands. It will sometimes be found inhabiting dry stone walls and anthills. It prefers an alkaline soil, but is notably not fussy about it. What it requires more than anything is that the vegetation surrounding it should also be short, and this will usually mean well grazed or poor soils. For this reason, it is common on the upland grasslands of Scotland, the Derbyshire Peak District and Cumbria, and, particularly, the coast.

Aside from its delicate beauty, Wild Thyme is a disappointment to the forager. Unlike garden thyme, its fragrance is slight to the point of near undetectability. Picking sufficient to make a noticeable difference to a dish may require picking more than your conscience will allow. However, if you find a large population then I suggest cutting some carefully with your swivel-shears, then leaving it in peace for a couple of years before going back for more. It is certainly not an endangered species but it is one which others enjoy seeing.