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Thymus praecox (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Lamiales

Familia: Lamiaceae
Subfamilia: Nepetoideae
Tribus: Mentheae
Subtribus: Menthinae
Genus: Thymus
Sectio: T. sect. Serpyllum
Subsectio: T. subsect. Pseudomarginati
Species: Thymus praecox
Subspecies: T. p. subsp. britannicus – T. p. subsp. caucasicus – T. p. subsp. grossheimii – T. p. subsp. parvulus – T. p. subsp. polytrichus – T. p. subsp. praecox – T. p. subsp. widderi – T. p. subsp. zygiformis

Thymus praecox Opiz, Naturalientausch 6: 40 (1824).

Thymus serpyllum subsp. praecox (Opiz) Vollm., Fl. Bayern: 635 (1914).
Thymus serpyllum var. praecox (Opiz) Briq., Bull. Trav. Soc. Bot. Genève 7: 234 (1894).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Europe
Regional: Southeastern Europe
Albania, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Sicilia, Yugoslavia
Regional: Middle Europe
Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland
Regional: Northern Europe
Greenland, Føroyar, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden
Regional: Southwestern Europe
France, Portugal, Spain
Regional: Northern Europe
Great Britain, Ireland
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Caucasus
North Caucasus, Transcaucasus
Regional: Western Asia
Turkey, Iran
Introduced into:

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Opiz, P.M. (1824) Naturalientausch 6: 40.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Thymus praecox in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 April 30. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2022. Thymus praecox. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2022. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2022 April 30. Reference page. 2022. Thymus praecox. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 30 April 2022.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Thymus praecox. Published online. Accessed: April 30 2022.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Thymus praecox in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.
Thymus praecox Opiz in The Euro+Med Plantbase

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Frühblühender Thymian
English: Wild Thyme
suomi: Nummiajuruoho
français: Thym précoce, Serpolet couché, Serpolet couchet
Nederlands: Kruiptijm
polski: Macierzanka wczesna

Thymus praecox is a species of thyme. A common name is mother of thyme,[2] but "creeping thyme" and "wild thyme" may be used where Thymus serpyllum, which also shares these names, is not found. It is native to central, southern, and western Europe.


Thymus praecox is in the genus Thymus belonging to the Serpyllum section. It has sometimes been reclassified as T. polytrichus.[3]
Subspecies and cultivars

Thymus praecox subspecies and cultivars include:

Thymus praecox subsp. praecox
Thymus praecox 'Doone Valley' (recently reclassified as a hybrid under the name Thymus 'Doone Valley'[3])
Thymus praecox 'Minus'
Thymus praecox 'Pseudolanuginosus'
Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus (sometimes classified as Thymus polytrichus subsp. britannicus[3][4])
Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus 'Albus' (white moss thyme)
Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus 'Languinosus' (woolly thyme)
Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus 'Hall's Woolly'
Thymus praecox subsp. arcticus 'Pink Chintz' (recently reclassified as Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'[3])

Thymus praecox near Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. It is known locally as blóðberg, meaning "bloodstone".
Thymus praecox in July in Lonsoraefi, Iceland.

Thymus praecox subsp. polytrichus (A. Kern. Ex Borbàs) Jalas. Found in the wild in Bosnia.[5]
Thymus praecox subsp. skorpilii (Velen.) Jalas. Found in the wild in Bosnia.[5]


Thymus praecox is cultivated as an ornamental plant, used as an evergreen groundcover in gardens and pots. When maintained at a lower height it is used between paving stones in patios and walkways. It is drought tolerant when established.

This thyme species (and Thymus serpyllum) has escaped cultivation in North America, and is a weed or invasive species in some habitats in the United States.[2]

This thyme has a strong scent similar to Oregano. It can be used in cuisine.

Like other species of thyme, T. praecox is characterized by substantial differences in essential oil composition from plant to plant. Plants which differ in this way are known as chemotypes and a geographical population will generally contain a mix of chemotypes. For example, studies of chemotypes in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, England, Scotland, and Ireland show that chemotypes span those countries rather than being geographically localized.[6][7] Some of those areas contain greater chemotype diversity than others.[8]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thymus praecox.

"Thymus praecox Opiz". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Thymus praecox". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
Brickell, C. & Zuk, J., Editors-in-Chief. The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, First American Edition. (New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 1997; ISBN 0-7894-1943-2).
Thymus polytrichus A. Kern. ex Borbás subsp. britannicus (Ronniger) Kerguélen and Thymus praecox Opiz subsp. arcticus (Durand) Jalas, GRIN Taxonomy for Plants
Vidic, D; Cavar, S; Solić, ME; Maksimović, M (2010), "Volatile constituents of two rare subspecies of Thymus praecox", Natural Product Communications, 5 (7): 1123–6, doi:10.1177/1934578X1000500730, PMID 20734955, S2CID 19358240
Stahl-Biskup, E (Feb 1986), "The Essential Oil from Norwegian Thymus Species. I. Thymus praecox ssp. Arcticus", Planta Medica, 52 (1): 36–8, doi:10.1055/s-2007-969062, ISSN 0032-0943
Stahl, Elisabeth (1984), "Chemical polymorphism of essential oil in Thymus praecox ssp. Arcticus (Lamiaceae) from Greenland", Nordic Journal of Botany, 4 (5): 597–600, doi:10.1111/j.1756-1051.1984.tb01985.x
Schmidt, A (2004), "Essential oil polymorphism of Thymus praecox subsp. Arcticus on the British Isles", Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 32 (4): 409–421, doi:10.1016/j.bse.2003.10.003

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