Thymus herba-barona is a species of thyme native to Corsica, Sardinia, and Majorca. It is also sometimes known by the common name caraway thyme, as it has a strong scent similar to caraway, for which it can be used as a substitute in any recipe. It can be used in cuisine or as an evergreen ground-cover for gardens.
It is a creeping plant growing to 10-25 cm high and spreading out across the ground using runners. The leaves are 4-10 mm long, dark green, and hairy. The flowers are pink, produced in late spring and early summer, and are attractive to bees. It grows best in average soil with light watering and full sunlight.
There are two subspecies:
- Thymus herba-barona subsp. herba-barona. Corsica, Sardinia.
- Thymus herba-barona subsp. bivalens. Majorca (Spain).
Cultivation and uses
The plant was favoured in England as a seasoning for barons of beef; this inspired its scientific name. It is cultivated in gardens across the world. It is difficult to grow Caraway Thyme from seed, so it is usually purchased as young plants 5-10 cm high, in small pots.