Golden thyme cultivars
For some years we had questioned whether our native golden leaved thymes had been assigned to the correct species.
Although they are lemon scented, their growth pattern differs considerably from that of Thymus citriodorus
and its cultivars such as T. 'Golden King' and T. 'Golden Queen', which tend to grow as a large loose bush.
However, the golden leaved thymes grow as a compact bush, readily root at the leaf nodes and are similar to the native
T. pulegioides. In 1999 Dr. Madan Thangavelu and I carried out the Golden Thyme DNA Study.
Bill Archer collected a golden leaved, lemon scented bushy thyme in Somerset,
which was introduced in 1979 and known as Thymus citriodorus 'Archers Gold'.
Another golden leaved, lemon scented thyme, introduced in 1974 and known as T. citriodorus 'Bertram Anderson',
was named by Joe Elliott in honour of his friend E.B. Anderson.
The Golden Thyme DNA Study confirmed that these golden leaved thymes should also be regarded as T. pulegioides
and they were renamed as cultivars of T. pulegioides in 1999.
Two other golden leaved thymes, formerly assigned to T. citriodorus,
with the cultivar names 'Aureus' and 'Golden Dwarf' were also reclassified under T. pulegioides.
Thymus pulegioides 'Archers Gold'
The golden leaved thyme formerly known as T. vulgaris 'Aureus', which is thyme scented,
had also been assigned to the wrong species.
Thymus vulgaris is not a native species, having been introduced by the Romans
and is not fully hardy in Britain, particularly in the north.
The growth pattern of this thyme is unlike that of
T. vulgaris, it does not key out to T. vulgaris and it is similar to T. pulegioides.
The Golden Thyme DNA Study also confirmed this and it was renamed T. pulegioides 'Goldentime'.
Thymus pulegioides 'Goldentime'
Two other bushy thymes, not now available in the nursery trade, but mentioned in old catalogues
and in Index Hortensis, had been wrongly assigned to T. serpyllum.
The Golden Thyme DNA Study showed that these thymes should also be regarded as T. pulegioides.
The golden leaved, thyme scented T. serpyllum 'Aureus' was renamed T. pulegioides 'Elliott's Gold'
(the earliest reference is Six Hills Nursery) and the dark green leaved, lemon scented
T. serpyllum 'Citriodorus' was renamed T. pulegioides 'Lemon King'.
Photographs © Margaret Easter, no copying or reproduction permitted.
Golden thyme cultivars first published in Plant Heritage 2002.
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