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(thyme), a genus of plants of the family Labiatae. The plants are subshrubs with herbaceous branches and with woody stems that are often decumbent. The small leaves are opposite and, for the most part, petioled. The flowers, which are usually lilac in color, are gathered in a head or some other type of inflorescence. The fruit consists of four nutlike lobes.
There are about 400 species, distributed in the temperate zone of Eurasia and in North Africa. Of the more than 150 species found in the USSR, the most common are wild thyme (T. serpyllum) and T. marschallianus. The former is found in the forest zone, where it grows in pine forests and in arid, sandy places. The latter is encountered on slopes, along forest margins, and in glades in the forest-steppe and steppe zones. The leaves of both species contain a number of essential oils, mainly thymol, which is used as an anthelmintic, a disinfectant, and an analgesic. The liquid extract and tea from the leaves are used as expectorants. Common thyme (T. vulgaris), which grows in the Mediterranean region and is cultivated in the USSR, is used the same way as the above-mentioned species. Thyme leaves are used as a seasoning and flavoring in cooking and by the canning and alcoholic beverages industries.
REFERENCEAlias lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
T. V. EGOROVA