Thymus vulgaris is the common variety of this small bushy plant with spindly stems and small leaves. Thymol, its key flavour component, increases antioxidant activity, which helps explain thyme's role as a traditional medicinal herb. In ancient Egypt, it was used as part of the mummification process. Now scientists have proven that it's high in antioxidants, and helps to reduce fever and infections such as colds, flu and athlete's foot.
In the kitchen
An essential component of a bouquet garni, thyme is used frequently in French cuisine and consequently in the French-derived Creole cooking. You'll find it in New Orleans' blackening spice rubs, the jerk seasonings of the Caribbean, and the Middle Eastern spice mix za'atar. Don't forget it for stuffings and sausages either.