Thymus quinquecostatus

Common Name: thyme 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Temperate Asia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Pale lilac to rose pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils of somewhat low fertility. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Cut back stems as necessary to maintain plant appearance or to control growth/spread or limit unsightly woody stem growth. Leaves may be harvested for culinary use at any time, but have their best flavor in summer just prior to flowering time.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thymus quinquecostatus, sometimes commonly called five-ribbed thyme, is a creeping, woody based perennial which typically grows to 4" tall but spreads by creeping stems to form a dense 1-2' wide foliage mat. It is native to dry rocky slopes and crevices, hillsides, riverbanks and dunes in China, Japan and Russia. Aromatic, oblong-elliptic, blue green leaves (to 1/2" long) are dotted with oil glands. Pale lilac to rose pink flowers bloom on short spikes (to 2.5" long) in July-August.

Synonymous with and sometimes called Thymus serpyllum subsp. quinquecostatus.

Genus name comes from the Greek word thymos (name used in ancient Greece for a species of Thymus or Satureja).

Specific epithet comes from the Latin words quinque meaning five and costatus meaning ribbed are in reference to the five distinctive leaf veins on each leaf.


No serious insect or disease problem. Susceptible to root rot, particularly in moist, poorly-drained soils.


Herb gardens. Small area ground cover or filler between stepping stones. Will sprawl over small rocks or over ledges in the rock garden. Sometimes used for culinary purposes as a flavorful addition to meats, fish, vegetables, soups or stews. Leaf oils have also been used for other purposes including perfumes, deodorants, antiseptics or medicines.