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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Thyme (Thymus) (pronounced "time") is a genus of about 350 species of aromatic perennial herbaceous plants and sub-shrubs to 40 cm tall, in the family Lamiaceae and native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. A number of species have different chemotypes. The stems tend to be narrow or even wiry; the leaves are evergreen in most species, arranged in opposite pairs, oval, entire, and small, 4-20 mm long.
  • Thymus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera insect species including Chionodes distinctella and the Coleophora case-bearers C. lixella, C. niveicostella, C. serpylletorum and C. struella (the latter three feed exclusively on Thymus).Thyme grows all over the world and it's many differing varieties can be found from Greenland to Asia.

Production & Cultivation

  • Thyme also grows in northern Africa and was used by the Egyptians in ancient times. It is still used in cosmetics for its sweet, pungent fragrance. It Grows in full sun in rocky or sandy soil with good drainage. In poor soil, amend planting area with organic matter and sharp grit, or grow in a raised bed. The plant prefers neutral to alkaline soil.
  • Crops of thyme have been established successfully without herbicides by transplanting the crop into an area covered with weed-suppressing matting. Organic mulches can be used in a similar way. Thyme suffers from few pests and diseases in Central Otago. However, in wetter environments with imperfect soil drainage, root-rotting fungal diseases have been implicated in plant death.

Applications

  • Fresh and dried thyme is used as a traditional culinary seasoning. The essential oil is also extracted from the herb and used in both perfumery and flavouring applications.  It is also used to fragrance soaps and detergents where its characteristic fresh, antiseptic aroma is desired.
  • The essential oil of Thyme (Thymol) can cause adverse reactions if taken in it's pure form, so use Thyme-based medications sparingly.  Thyme is also known as a stimulant. It stimulates the circulatory system, and can help raise low blood pressure. It is also thought to help memory by stimulating the chemical reactions in the brain.

Extraction & Technology

  • Essential oils from aerial parts of Mentha piperita, M. spicata, Thymus vulgaris, Origanum vulgare, O. applii, Aloysia triphylla, Ocimum gratissimum, O. basilicum were obtained by steam destillation using a Clevenger-type system. These oils were screened for antibacterial and anti-Candida albicans activity using bioautographic method.
  • Using a multiple-method approach, antioxidant activity of aqueous tea infusions prepared from oregano (Origanum vulgare L. ssp. hirtum), thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) and wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum L.) were tested in relation to their chemical composition. Total phenolic, flavonoid, catechin and anthocyanin content was determined by spectrophotometric methods.

Market

  • The market demand for thyme is rather high, yearly estimates running at about 500 tonnes in USA and 1000 tonnes in Europe. Owing to a general popularity of the use of natural substances instead of synthetic compounds, an increase in that demand is predictable.Many herbs were cultivated in Babylon and Assyria: basil, mint, anise, coriander, thyme, asafoetida, bay, rocket, saffron, and sage are all mentioned in tablets from these civilizations.
  • The market rate of thyme is about Rs.20 per kg of green leaves and Rs.140 per kg of dried leaves. There are about 40 farmers at present in Udhagamandalam and Kodaikanal regions who are cultivating this variety. From one hectare a net profit of Rs.1,20,000 can be obtained even under rain fed conditions.

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