Lemon Thyme

Thymus citriodorus

Herbs gallery - Lemon Thyme

Common names

  • Citrus Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme

Belonging to the thyme family, occasionally the lemon thyme herb is also called citrus thyme. Lemon thyme is a regular plant in many gardens, but is often ignored as a therapeutic herb. If you are searching this plant in any garden center or in any catalogue, it is likely to be listed as Thymus x citriodorus. However, sometimes this herb is also listed by its old names Thymus serpyllum citriodorum or Thymus serpyllum citratus. It is important to note that lemon thyme has no relation whatsoever with basil thyme. Similar to the garden thyme, this plant also has a preference to grow in a place receiving full sunlight.

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Precisely speaking, the lemon thyme or the citrus thyme is an evergreen perennial that forms a mat on the ground. This herb has an aroma akin to that of lemon. In fact, once there was lots of misunderstanding regarding the precise name as well as origin of this plant. DNA analysis undertaken recently hints that this plant is not a cross or a hybrid. On the contrary, it is a separate species which was described for the first time way back in 1811.

Thymus citriodorus or lemon thyme can be described as an evergreen sub-shrub, which grows up to a height of 0.1 m (3.9 inches) and spreads over an area of 0.3 m (12 inches). This herb has a preference for a excellently drained soil and complete sunlight. Lemon thyme plants bear flowers during the middle to late summer. The hues of its blooms may vary from pink to lavender and these are an excellent source of nectar for butterflies and bees.

The appearance of lemon thyme has close resemblance to the English thyme and it also grows akin to the English thyme. However, the similarity between these two species ends with this.

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The aroma as well as the flavour of lemon thyme is exactly like lemon. You may use this herb in any recipe that needs lemon juice, lemon flavouring or lemon essence. This herb grows in the form of a weed and hence, you always have more lemon in your garden. When lemon thyme is incorporated into marinade, it is excellent for chicken as well as fish. Lemon thyme has shiny green foliage, which can be trimmed from any of its knots in a conventional knot garden.

Culinary thymes, like lemon thyme, are basically small making them ideal plants for growing in containers.

The blooms of lemon thyme are small, lavender-pink hued and bloom during June and July (summer). This species is partially creeping and partly upright by nature. It produces very little green leaves that have the aroma of lemon. These leaves have yellow borders or some may even have yellow strains. Some leaves have more of such strains. There is also a lemon thyme cultivar variety called Thymus citriodorus argenteus which varies in the same manner as far as the pale or yellowing parts of the leaves are concerned.

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The lemon thyme grows like a very small bush, similar to that of the common thyme, and is found growing in a diverse green and multi-colored variety. In case you are cultivating the variegated (multicolored) lemon thyme variety, look for the plain green colored stems and get rid of them. Provided they are allowed to grow on the plant, it is very likely that they will take over and your lemon thyme will no longer be variegated. However, if you have a preference for the plain green hued lemon thymes, you may as well leave them undisturbed. But if you remove these plain green stems, you can use their leaves to prepare a pleasing tea or even use them for culinary purposes.

It has been found that lemon thyme encloses elevated levels of antioxidants. Hence, using the freshly obtained leaves of the plant may help to perk up your health. A regular infusion prepared with lemon thyme leaves not only helps to unwind, but is also an excellent decongestant. And together with the antioxidants enclosed by the plants, lemon thyme can be used to prepare an effectual tonic that can be taken when you are feeling unwell due to an inclement weather or feel that you may catch a cold soon.

Apart from its therapeutic and culinary uses, lemon thyme can be used wonderfully for making herb pillows. Compared to the standard pillows we use in the beds, a herb pillow is smaller and should be positioned just below your regular pillow while sleeping at night to induce better sleep, particularly if you are suffering from asthma or having any other respiratory problems.

Generally, herb pillows are made from a dual layer of any loosely woven fabric. While this will prevent the herb from going out of the pillow, it will also enable the aroma to come out freely. In order to make a pillow with herbs, first you require dehydrating the leaves of the herb. You can dry the herbs best by dangling bunches of the herb in a clean and ventilated place. Remember not to dry the herb near the kitchen or laundry room, which are usually humid areas. When the leaves have dried, you should strip them from the branches and use them to pack your herb pillow. Alternatively, you may also mix these dried lemon thyme herb with other herbs and stuff the pillow. You may definitely use these dried leaves for culinary purpose too.

Parts used



Lemon thyme as well as its various cultivars are mostly grown in the form of ornamental plants, and also for their therapeutic as well as culinary uses. When grown is gardens, these plants are frequently used in the form of ground covers, as they form a mat-like covering to prevent soil erosion. They are usually grown in planting beds, either in containers or in the spaces between the stepping stones. Lemon thyme herb possesses the aptitude to tolerate droughts when it is fully established. The flowers of lemon thyme also produce significant amount of nectar and, hence, attract wildlife, including bees and butterflies. This is one reason why lemon thyme plants are used widely in wildlife gardening.

Many people prefer drinking lemon thyme tea, as it is effective in the treatment of infections, problems related to congestion as well as unwinding the senses. It is easy to recognize Thymus citriodorus or lemon thyme, as this plant possesses pale green, lace-shaped leaves and a lemony aroma. The lemony aroma of the leaves of this plant makes lemon thyme a popular ingredient in the kitchen. It is used widely to flavour several dishes, particularly those that are cooked with vegetables, fish as well as chicken.

The leaves of lemon thyme as well as the essential oils extracted from them are used in herbal medicine for treating various conditions. The leaves and essential oil of lemon thyme are used to cure asthma and also for respiratory aromatherapy, in the form of antiseptics, disinfectants and deodorants.

As discussed earlier, lemon thyme leaves have various medicinal uses. They are employed to perk up the immune system, to provide relaxation, prevent viral, bacterial and fungal infections and also aid in combating asthma in kids. In addition, ingestion of lemon thyme tea promotes digestion. It can also be used in the form of a gargle as well as a deodorizing mouth wash.

Precisely speaking, the essential oil extracted from the lemon thyme leaves is widely used to treat respiratory problems, breathing difficulties, asthma and also in the form of a rub after any rigorous sporting activity.

Always bear in your mind that in case you wish to use lemon thyme for therapeutic use, it is vital that it ought to be cultivated organically to ensure that its medicinal properties are concealed and you do not ingest any toxic elements, for instance, pesticides, accidentally.

Culinary uses

Lemon thyme is often used for the plants ornamental splendor. In addition, the leaves of lemon thyme are also used for culinary purposes, as they have the aroma and flavour of lemon. Very frequently, the leaves of lemon thyme are recommended for use in marinades, baked fish, fruit salad, fried vegetables, custards and any other recipe that would call for use of lemon juice or zest. When used in the form of a tea, it is a healthy tonic, as the phenols enclosed by the leaves of this plant have anti-bacterial and caffeine like actions.

The leaves of lemon thyme (T. citriodorus) are also used in the form of a flavouring herb in raw salads, cooking as well as in herbal teas.

Habitat and cultivation

This herb thrives well in well-drained soil and when grown in places receiving full sunlight.


Chemical analysis of lemon thyme has revealed that it encloses a number of elements, such as esters, citral, citronellol, geraniol, nerol and thymol.

Usual dosage

The smell of crushed lemon thyme leaves is very pleasing. This plant possesses an aroma and taste akin to that of lemon and it blends excellently with fish. You may also add lemon thyme leaves to stuffing or salads for their fragrance, zest and flavour. Additionally, lemon thyme leaves can be used to prepare a rejuvenating lemony tea. To prepare this herbal tea, you need one teaspoon of freshly obtained leaves of lemon thyme or half teaspoon of the dehydrated leaves. Put the herb into a pot and add one cup (250 ml) of boiling water. Allow the herb to infuse in the hot water for about five to ten minutes. Filter the tea and drink it for refreshing your mind and body. Alternatively, you may add some honey to the tea for sweetening it.

You may also make a regular infusion by using one teaspoon of the freshly obtained lemon thyme leaves or about half teaspoonful of the dehydrated leaves. Add the herb to one cup (250 ml) of boiling water and allow it to steep for some time. If you like, sweeten the infusion by adding a little honey to it and drink it several times daily, but never in excess.

Side effects and cautions

While lemon thyme is known to provide us with a number of health benefits, it is also known to cause some adverse effects and this ought to be borne in mind when you are drinking a tea prepared with this herb. People who are vulnerable to allergic reactions should keep away from drinking tea prepared with lemon thyme leaves.

Women should avoid drinking lemon thyme tea during pregnancy. This is also true for nursing mothers. What is important is that, despite the health benefits offered by lemon thyme, one should never drink the tea prepared with it in excess.


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