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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

14 December, 2016

Wild Thyme: what a nightmare

I suppose it is easy to forget that all of the vegetables and herbs we cook with and eat today derived from wild plants. Over the years selective breeding has produced new variants of the originals and the originals now exist in the wild state less foraged than they once were. Some people still like to forage for wild plants and fungi but most of us prefer go to the supermarket.
One of the herbs we grow in our garden is thyme and it seems to look quite different to its native cousin, the wild thyme. Wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus) is a plant very much associated with chalk and can be found on bare patches amongst thin grass on chalk cliffs and downs, often on ant hills. Growing on poor soil it tends to be a low, sprawling plant rather that the little bush we have in the herb garden. Wild thyme is evergreen and has woody stems that grow out across the ground and small pink flowers form on them to create a fairly large cluster.
Species of thyme were considered ideal remedies for headaches and it was believed that if you drank a tea made from the leaves it would prevent nightmares!
Wild Thyme: what a nightmare