Thyme herba barona variety (Caraway thyme) (Labiatae - Lamiaceae, Mint family)

Characteristics and uses:

Thymus herba-barona is a species of thyme native to Sardinia, Corsica and Majorca. It is also known by the common name "caraway thyme" (because of its strong scent, similar to caraway). It is an evergreen, no frost tender, and needs light watering and full sunlight. The leaves are small, and the foliage has a strong aroma of caraway: for this reason it can be used as a substitute for real caraway in any recipe. It is especially nice cooking bread, or associated with meat. The small flowers, blooming in late spring, are rose-mauve, lavender or pink, and very attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower: it is used as a condiment. It tastes as good as it smells, it is a complex combination of sweet and savory. Sardinian shepherds for generation have grazed their sheep and goats on hillsides of thyme to flavour the milk and the meat.


The name probably dates to Medieval times, when it was frequently used to spice up (and conserve) meat. It can be translated as "herb of beef". Or perhaps simply from Latin "herba" and Sardinian "baro, baronis" (clumsy, simple-minded).

Other uses:

The plant contains an essential oil for antiseptic, deodorant and disinfectant uses. It is also used in perfumery, as a traditional medicine, and as a mouth wash.

History and folklore:

It is a typical endemism of Mediterranean islands, used by women to heal minor illnesses: there are plenty of stories and legends about these healers, vestal of miraculous potions and ointments also recognized by the most skeptical.

***** Erbe Matte cannot take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.*****

***** We carefully dry thyme stems when they are crisp, at the first bloom; after they are dried out, we remove the leaves and flowers by sliding our fingers down each stem. *****

Many grilled and oven roasted fish recipes, such as sea bass and mullets call for thyme. Thyme marries well with rosemary and sage. When you grill, you can get great results if you marinate the meat for a few hours before grilling with these three herbs. But herba-barona tends to lose its flavour when heated. So we propose a cold recipe.