Lemon thymes that are often associated with common thyme have been reclassified with other species. They are described under Related species and cultivars.
The name French thyme is actually applied to various subspecies containing thymol and with curled leaf margins. Those with greyish-green leaves that are native to the Mediterranean are usually more aromatic than those with green leaves that are native to northern Europe. Most green-leaved forms are hardier than those with greyish leaves. They are known under a wide variety of names, creating a lot of confusion regarding their true identity. The following cultivars were selected and named by the DeBaggio nursery in the United States.
'Narrow-Leaf French' – upright cultivar growing to 35 to 40 cm tall; greyish leaves; lilac-coloured blossoms in spring; propagated from cuttings to assure uniformity.
'Orange Balsam' – compact plant (30 cm); pointed dark green leaves with an aroma of balsam and oranges.
'Provencal' – upright cultivar growing to 40 cm tall and 60 to 90 cm wide; tiny, very narrow greyish-green and strongly scented leaves.
Related species and cultivars
Thymus ‘Broad-leaf English’
Typical English thyme has flat leaves, without the slightest curl. It is hardier than French thyme, but must be propagated from cuttings because identical individuals cannot be obtained from seed.
Lemon thyme is a small shrub with mauve flowers. The lemony leaves are used fresh to enhance the flavour of food and herbal teas. This species was long considered a hybrid of common thyme (T. vulgaris) and creeping thyme (T. pulegioides). It was recently reclassified as a separate species. Lemon thyme and its cultivars are not hardy in Quebec.
‘Argenteus’ – ornamental, aromatic silver-green leaves
Caraway thyme is a small prostrate shrub with rose-pink flowers. The dark green leaves, used fresh or dried with roast beef, have a strong thyme and caraway scent. This species is not hardy in Quebec.
Doone Valley thyme
Thymus ‘Doone Valley’
This hybrid is a small, decorative, mat-forming shrub covered in rose-pink flowers in summer. New shoots turn reddish when they first start to bloom. The lemon-scented, green and yellow variegated leaves are used to flavour wines and vinegars.
This small creeping shrub can grow to 25 cm tall. This lemon-scented thyme is covered with small pale mauve flowers in summer. It is used in many different dishes and goes especially well with mushrooms and zucchini. A number of cultivars of lemon thyme (T. citriodorus) have been reclassified as the pulegioides species.
‘Archer’s Gold’ – Leaves with gold edges; mauve flowers
‘Aureus’ – Yellow variegated leaves (the colours fade over the summer); mauve flowers
‘Bertram Anderson’ – Gold leaves; reddish new shoots; mauve flowers
Silver Posie thyme
Thymus ‘Silver Posie’
This low-growing hybrid (less than 30 cm tall) is covered in greyish-green and white variegated leaves. The small pink flowers appear in late spring or early summer. Its leaves have the typical common thyme scent.