Thymus polytrichus subsp. britannicus

Common Name: thyme 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Western Europe
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Whitish purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Attracts: Butterflies
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Drought tolerant. Dislikes wet soils where it tends to rot. Cut back stems as necessary to maintain plant appearance or to control growth\spread or to limit unsightly woody stem growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thymus polytrichus subsp. britannicus, commonly called mother of thyme, is a creeping, woody-based thyme that is primarily used as a small ground cover, but also has limited culinary value. Numerous stems form a flat mat (2-6" tall) with tiny, rounded, fuzzy, blue-green leaves. Leaves are aromatic, but strength of scent varies according to habitat and season. Clusters of tiny, tubular, whitish to rose-purple flowers appear in early summer. Unlike the species, the stems of this subspecies are hairy. Flowers are attractive to bees. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

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


No serious problems. Some susceptibility to root rot, particularly if soil is too moist.


Good for small areas as a ground cover, path edging or as a filler between stepping-stones, or as a plant that will sprawl over small rocks or ledges in the rock garden or on dry slopes.