By Maryann Readal, HSA Secretary
The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month for March 2019 — lemon thyme — has undergone DNA testing to determine whether it is a separate species or a hybrid species. Interestingly, botanists in 1811 considered the lemon thyme they knew to be its own distinct species. Can you imagine that the classification of this understated herb could be the subject of so much study and concern?
But correct names for plants are important so that gardeners, researchers and history share a common language. And so, we are glad that botanists strive to name plants accurately.
Lemon thyme’s antibacterial properties have been used to treat colds and sore throats and other respiratory illnesses. It was also thought to strengthen the nervous system.
In the kitchen, it can be added to any savory and some sweet recipes that call for lemons. For maximum flavor, it should be picked in the morning before flowering when essential oils are abundant.
In the garden lemon thyme thrives with sun and good drainage. It is hardy to USDA Zone 6, and is evergreen in my Zone 8b garden in Texas. The low-growing species makes a nice addition to a rock garden or between paving stones. However, it does not like to be trampled upon. There is also a bushy, upright variety of lemon thyme.
And to top it off, lemon thyme’s tiny little flowers are like honey to bees. Another plus is that it is deer resistant and a mosquito repellent. Get recipes and read more about lemon thyme from HSA’s Herb of the Month page.
nice job mary ann–thanks! i love it in lemon poppyseed muffins and fruit compotes.
I can grow lemon thyme in my Zone 5 garden but it is short lived – about three years. This was a severe winter without a lot of snow coverage so I am holding my breath. I love the variegated lemon thyme for its ornamental appeal in the garden and use it for savory and sweet dishes.
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It really is a pretty plant. I need to do a better job at using it.
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Great in a gin and tonic too 😉
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I will have to try that!