Thyme

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Scientific name: Thymus Vulgaris

Family: Tubiflorae /Lamiaceae

Common name: Thyme

General Information

Thyme is a small perennial shrub and its height rarely exceeds 40 centimeters. Thyme’s growth can be either creeping or upright. The leaves are very small, commonly 2,5 to 5 mm and vary depending on the type and variety in shape, coverage of the hair, even the aroma. The Thymus vulgaris’ leaves are oval to oblong, slightly fleshy curved inwards and very aromatic. The aroma of the leaves is caused by the presence of the essential oil, which is a source of pharmaceutical benefits.
The flowers have a pale purple color and calyx tubular knurled bearing bristles. The seeds are round and very small. The germination of the seeds, under appropriate conditions, can be maintained up to three years.

Cultivation techniques

Thyme can be cultivated in difficult terrain that other crops will hardly survive. All cultivations of aromatic plants, grown in soils which have been improved with proper natural additives produce high quality essential oils with high demand worldwide. Thyme grows well in temperate climates, in warm, dry and sunny areas. It has high needs in light which is why cultivation in partial shade should be avoided, in order to achieve the maximum yield. Thyme can withstand water shortage. Systematic drip irrigation with the necessary amount of water has beneficial effects on crop yield. Thrives in well-drained soils with ph values 5.0 – 8.0. It can be cultivated in a variety of terrains, especially in calcareous and dry, even in heavy liquids, but in such soils (heavy and wet), the aroma decreases. It is propagated by seeds, grafts, offshoots and by division.

Seeding in the field


Direct seeding in the field is difficult because the seeds are very small (3.300-4000 seeds per gram). The seeds are sown in seedbeds or, in either proliferating disks in depth 6 mm or less. The germinability of the seeds varies at about 72% (Kretschmer1989). For transplanting in October the seedbeds are being prepared in mid-August while for spring transplanting the seedbeds are preparing very early at spring and even earlier in greenhouses. Since thyme creates hybrids easily, the origin of the seed shall be known and therefore the seeds must be certified. Another method of propagation is by offshoots taken in the spring from parent plants plantation. The seedlings are transplanted in the field in autumn or spring.

The recommended planting distances shall be 30 cm between plants on the same line and 60 cm between lines while in southern regions the planting density is 36 plants /m² why has successful results in reducing competition from weeds. The main application of fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur is necessary. Excessive use of nitrogen can affect the growth of the plants and also the quality of the essential oil. Recently has been demonstrated that thyme seedlings show increasing of photosynthesis and of biomass production in high concentrations of carbon dioxide (Tisserat et al., 2002).Also studies have shown that thyme reacted positively to the nitrogen especially after harvesting.
It is necessary for the producers to comply with a management plan to deal with the pests, with regular detection of cultivation and to adopt the use of biological methods and formulations, with pheromones.

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Diseases

Thyme generally presents no disease problems. However, in areas with high rainfall and on soils with poor drainage it can affected by diseases of the root and overground section.
The application of appropriate agricultural practices,the early detection of cultivation and proper diagnosis of the diseases in conjunction with the use of appropriate biological preparations have positive effects on disease prevention and the protection of the cultivation. Thyme is cultivated organically worldwide and the produced essential oil is bought at very good prices.

Harvest

The harvesting starts by the 2nd year of the cultivation. For the production of essential oil, harvesting is done in the flowering period. If you want fresh product collect the tops of the shoots (before flowering) so plants to promote strong new growth. Usually for the thyme harvesting occurs once every year, but can also occur twice or three times every year, if the crop is irrigated.

Market

The world’s largest markets for essential oils are the United States, Japan and Europe. However,the production of essential oils continues to be concentrated in Europe, with seven of the largest processing companies in the world. Japan accounts for 10% of global demand. The Canadian market is dominated by the perfume industry of the United States. France dominates the fragrance market in the world and Switzerland is one of the leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. Britain and India is known to have a significant position in the field of aromatic plants. Most countries import dried thyme mostly from Spain and Morocco which are the largest producing countries worldwide.

Health benefits

The main component of the essential oil of thyme, thymol, is widely used in perfumery, in the pharmaceutical, in cosmetics and in beverages (liquor production) (de Rougemont, 1989). It can be used in the food industry and confectionery either as an antioxidant or to impart odor and appearance. Thymol is effective against salmonella and staphylococcus. The antiseptic properties of thyme act beneficially to the immune system and respiratory infections. It can be used to treat dermatological problems of acne , dermatitis , eczema , insect bites and facilitate digestion of the stomach. The essential oil is used in aromatatherapeia ( chemotype thymol , linalool ) to relieve sciatica and rheumatic diseases .Thyme Is helpful for maintaining good oral hygiene, acts as antifungal, antipsoriatic and as a stimulant.