This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
The Wild Thyme grows on the hills and the high heath lands, usually among fine grasses that are close-cropped by sheep and rabbits; or if on lower ground it will probably be found upon the light and well-drained soil of a mole-hill among mosses. In spite of its diminutive stature it is a shrub, with a woody rootstock and a creeping stem, from which arise the flowering steins. The leaves, which are very small and stalked, are egg-shaped, with even margins, often turned under. The rosy-purple flowers are produced in spikes. They are of the usual labiate type, and both the calyx and the corolla are two-lipped. The upper lip of the calyx is three-toothed, the lower cleft in two, the whole of a purplish hue. The upper lip of the corolla is straight and notched, the lower cut into three lobes. There are two forms of flower - smaller and larger ; the small are perfect, the larger bearing developed anthers only. It should be noted also that in the complete flowers the anthers shed their pollen before the stigmas are ripe ; self-fertilization is therefore impossible. The flower produces much honey, the whole plant is highly fragrant, and in consequence is very much visited by insects who carry the pollen. While the stamens are ripe the pistil is short and almost hidden within the corolla-tube; when the pollen has been shed the style elongates, the two arms of the stigma diverge and occupy a prominent position far outside the lips. Under this arrangement insects alighting on the younger flowers dust themselves with pollen, and upon visiting those a day or two older could scarcely fail to deposit some of it upon the ripe stigmas.
This is the only native species of a genus named from the ancient Greek name for the plant.
Thymus serpyllum. - Labiatae. -