Thyme from myth to the table

   With the advent of the alternate season of summer and autumn, in some arid and semi-arid desert grasslands, river banks and hilly areas in Northwest, North China and Northeast China, a low creeping herbaceous shrub with large tracts of growth is ushering in a beautiful blooming period. The small purple flowers are like little stars, densely blooming on the top of the leaves, as if spreading a beautiful purple blanket on the earth, which is refreshing and refreshing; the breeze blows, and there is a refreshing rich floral fragrance in the air. Suddenly, it is full of sweet and delicious road that makes people feel very bright. This kind of charming flowers and plants blooming all over the mountains and plains has a simple and nice name-"Thyme". Thyme is not only beautiful and moving, it is an ideal thing to beautify the environment, but also fragrant and delicious. It is a spice plant with a very long history.

Ancient spice

  Thyme is also called ground pepper, ground pepper, mountain pepper, mountain pepper, and thyme. It originated in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and is a very ancient plant. Archaeologists have discovered thyme fossils 5 million years ago.

  The use of thyme by humans has a very long history. For example, the ancient Egyptians would use thyme as a preservative, the ancient Greeks would use thyme to pay homage to sacrificed warriors, and the most widely used thyme was used as a spice. As early as 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome, people used thyme as a flavoring agent when making cheese, wine and soup. The ancient Romans even recorded these conditions in their agricultural poems.

  In Europe, as an important spice plant, thyme has been widely cultivated since ancient times and has become one of the essential spices on the family table of ordinary people in the West. Just like the pepper and aniseed in Chinese food, it has a wide range of uses, especially in In the seafood and barbecue foods that Westerners particularly love, adding thyme can effectively remove the fishy smell of seafood and meat itself and increase the deliciousness of the dishes.

  This miraculous effect of thyme comes from its volatile oil content. Thyme in the flowering period emits a strong fragrance. This is because the volatile oil content of the whole thyme plant in the blooming period is usually as high as 0.8% to 1.2%. The components of these volatile oils are quite rich, mainly including thymol, carvacrol, p-cymene, α-pinene, γ-terpinene, α-terpineol, L-menthol, caryophyllene, linalool , Linalyl acetate, bornyl acetate, etc. Different varieties of thyme also contain different monoterpenoids such as geranol, 4-thujone and 4-terpineol.

  It is precisely because the volatile oil of thyme is particularly rich, its fragrance is also particularly strong. When grilling chicken, grilling fish, and grilling lamb chops, if you sprinkle some thyme, it will greatly increase the layering of the food, and the aroma will be particularly intoxicating. The western food pizza, which everyone knows, is also exceptionally delicious because of the addition of thyme.

  As a high-quality natural spice, thyme has not only been favored by Westerners since ancient times, but also attracted the attention of Chinese people early on. In the "Complete Collection of Essential Things for Home Use" in the Yuan Dynasty, there is a record of adding thyme to hump and camel hoof for seasoning; Ming Dynasty's great medical scientist Li Shizhen also clearly recorded in the "Compendium of Materia Medica" that thyme "tastes slightly spicy, earthy People cook mutton, it is fragrant and beautiful."

  In addition to the aromatic volatile oil, the whole thyme is also rich in saponins, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, quinoline-4-carboxylic acid and a small amount of flavonoids, such as luteolin Sodium-7-β-glucoside, luteolin-7-diglucoside, etc.; therefore, it has high nutritional value and can be eaten directly. In fact, as early as the Yuan Dynasty in China, people had eaten thyme as a vegetable. This can be confirmed by a five-character poem entitled "Di Jiao" by the poet Xu Youren in the Yuan Dynasty. The poem said: "The freezing rain pushes the flowers to purple, and the light breeze disperses the wild fragrance. The thorny sand has thin pointed leaves, and the ground is long and chaotic. The harvest of the Chu guest is wrapped, and the Xitong picks up the basket. The cook supplies the grass tools and adjusts the Ding Erfeiliang."

Low plant

  What does thyme, which combines aroma and deliciousness, look like?

  Thyme is an evergreen plant of the subshrub genus Thyme of the Lamiaceae family. The plant is usually relatively short, with a height of about 15-30 cm, and many branches. Its roots are gray-brown, axial root type, short root neck, underdeveloped main roots, and relatively developed lateral roots, which are easy to grow interlaced to form a network; the stems are hard and upright, usually narrow and thin, square, woody, and sterile branches follow from the stem. The ends or bases of the germinate, creeping or ascending, the branches are purple, densely pubescent.

  Thyme's leaves are opposite, the leaf color is medium green, and there are many in number. They are cleverly grown on the stems, looking down from top to bottom, just like green flowers, very beautiful. Looking closely at each leaf, the shape of the leaf is very small, all elliptical, about 0.4-1.0 cm long, 0.2-0.5 cm wide, blunt or slightly pointed at the apex, wedge-shaped or tapered at the base, whole or rare 1 , 2 pairs of small serrations, hairless on both sides, 2, 3 pairs of lateral veins, slightly protruding underneath, with sunken glands on both sides, and dense or without glands on the back of the leaves, so the leaves have a strong fragrance and can be mixed with other herbs. spices. The lower petiole is about half the length of the leaf, and the upper petiole becomes shorter.

  The flowering period of thyme is July and August. The flower branches are about 2-10 cm high, and the flower tops are clustered. The cymes are closely arranged into heads or loosely arranged into spikes; the calyx is green, slightly lip-shaped, the upper edge is divided into 3 petals, the lower edge is dehiscent, and the throat Hairy ring, pubescent and glandular points on the surface; corolla tubular, slightly longer than the calyx, about 0.6 to 1.0 cm long, mostly elegant purple, purple, lavender, pink or white, sparsely pubescent; stamens 2 strong, beyond corolla, anthers red, pistil 2 lobed, red; upper lip straight

  upright, clear oil glands, camphor fragrance, crown elongate tube, up slightly increased, the shape of petals like halves lips beauty, tender The ground is born among the lush green leaves, which is particularly moving.

  The fruit of thyme is nearly round or oval small nuts, in a flattened shape, with a smooth and brown surface, and the fruiting period is September. Its seeds are extremely small, up to more than 6000 seeds per gram, with no endosperm or less endosperm, and low germination rate. It takes 12-20 days for the seeds to germinate, and 90-100 days for maturity, and the seed life is about 3 years.

  Of course, the above-mentioned plant morphological characteristics of thyme are only a comprehensive description of the general characteristics of thyme plants. In fact, there are more than 350 species of thyme, which are widely distributed in the Eurasian steppe areas of the Eastern Hemisphere, including northern Africa, Europe and the temperate regions of Asia; therefore, between each different species, its plant morphological characteristics will still be There are some subtle differences.

  Although there are many species of thyme plants, most of them are distributed in the Mediterranean and surrounding areas. The main producing areas are France, Spain and Egypt in Southern Europe. There are 15 species, 2 varieties and 1 variant of thyme in China, which are mainly distributed in the vast areas north of the Yellow River, such as Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi, Xinjiang, Shanxi, Hebei, Beijing, and Liaoning. It needs to be pointed out that there are actually only 5 types of thyme that are actually used in commercial applications, so its development potential is still very huge.

Helen's Tears

  Since thyme is not just a plant, but the collective name of all aromatic plants of the genus Thyme in the Lamiaceae, they must have a unified name, which is the genus name of thyme.

  The genus of thyme is called Thymus, which is derived from the Greek word Thymos. The word ostensibly means incense and worship. The deeper meaning is a symbol of nobility and bravery. Therefore, the ancient Greeks burned thyme on the altar when paying homage to the sacrificed warriors to express their respect and memory for the warriors.

  Why is thyme given such a special meaning? This is related to the Battle of Troy in Greek mythology.

  Legend has it that the goddess of the sea Thetis and the hero Peleus had a wedding, and the gods were all invited to attend, but Eris, the goddess of discord, was omitted. Because of jealousy and hatred, Eris decided to use golden apples to provoke the gods. She quietly placed a golden apple with the words "for the most beautiful person" on the floor of the banquet hall. Hera, the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, really thought of it. The golden apple should belong to itself. The three goddesses were in a dispute, Zeus refused to be a referee and asked them to go to the Troy Prince Paris for a ruling. In order to obtain the golden apple, the three goddesses each showed their magical powers: Hera promised to the prince to make him the richest king in the world; the goddess of wisdom Athena promised to the prince to make him the most masculine person in the world; love and The beauty goddess Aphrodite promised to the prince that Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, would be given to him as his wife. In the end, the prince chose love and awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite.

  The allure Helen is the daughter of Spartan Queen Leda and Zeus. Because she is very beautiful, there are countless nobles and nobles who pursue her. Helen's adoptive father, the King of Sparta, married her to Menelaus, the new Spartan king, in order to avoid strife, and Helen became the queen of Sparta.

  At first, everyone was in peace, but after the golden apple dispute between the goddesses happened, Aphrodite quietly guided Paris to Sparta in order to fulfill his promise. After Paris saw Helen, he was really overwhelmed by it. He tried every means to get close to Helen and pour out his love to her. Helen was also deeply attracted by Paris's handsomeness and fell in love with him unknowingly. So the two young people who were in love fled to Troy together. Unexpectedly, this elopement actually led to the ten-year Trojan War.

  In order to regain his wife Helen, Menelaus invited troops from other Greek city-states to chase Troy under the command of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. ", so that Troy was completely destroyed. Helen shed tears of grief when he heard that Paris was killed in battle. When the crystal teardrops landed, they turned into fragrant thyme. Seeing sad tears falling on Helen's beautiful face, the exhausted Trojan soldiers were all moved, cheering up and vowing to protect her.

  Since then, thyme has been endowed with a symbol of courage and vitality. Before her beloved man goes out, women will send a bunch of thyme to express their love and encourage the other party to fight bravely; young girls who have a yearning object will also be there. Embroidered with thyme patterns on the clothes, or directly use thyme flowers as accessories to dress up, to show that he is looking for a lover and waiting for his love to show love; shy men who lack the courage to confess to a girl, it is said that as long as they drink thyme brewed tea , Will pluck up the courage to pursue what you love.

Excellent medicinal herbs

  As a popular ancient spice and a special plant endowed with a symbol of nobility and courage, thyme has been valued by mankind for thousands of years. In fact, in addition to the above, thyme is also an excellent Chinese medicinal material, which can play a variety of functions such as anti-inflammatory, sterilization, repellent, pain relief, and expectorant. It is an important medicinal material that can help humans overcome many common diseases.

  Because thyme has a strong spicy fragrance, it has obvious antiseptic and antiseptic properties. Therefore, the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans often used it for antibacterial treatment. They used to add thyme to their bath water to improve their health. The ancient Greeks also used thyme to improve their health. Help digestion. The ancient Egyptians discovered that thyme had an antiseptic effect, so they used it to make and preserve pharaoh's mummies. According to records, since the 1st century AD, thyme has been used to treat delirium, lethargy, throat diseases, spleen and stomach diseases and liver diseases.

  In our country, the medicinal value of thyme can be traced back to the Northern Song Dynasty. In Song Dynasty medicinal books such as "Zheng Lei Materia Medica" and "Jiayou Materia Medica", it is recorded that thyme "whole herb is pungent, warm in nature, and has little toxicity", and has the effects of warming the middle and strengthening the spleen, dispelling wind and relieving pain. In modern medical books such as the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Medicinal Plants, Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shaanxi Chinese Herbal Medicines, and Selections of Chinese Herbal Medicines in Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningqing, it is also recorded that thyme can eliminate wind, relieve cough, relieve phlegm, and prevent It has the effects of cold, warming the middle and dispelling cold, invigorating the spleen and eliminating food. For example, "Pharmacology of Chinese Medicines" describes thyme as: "Antitussive. It is especially effective against whooping cough. It is used for acute bronchitis and laryngitis. It is also a skin irritant and antiseptic detergent."

  Modern medical research shows that thyme is effective The antiseptic and disinfection effects mainly come from its volatile oil components, especially the thymol, which has obvious inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Therefore, it can be used for oral and throat sterilization. At the same time, thymol is effective against hookworms and hookworms. Whipworm also has a paralyzing effect, and its dried flowers also have the effect of repelling moths, so it can be used as an insect repellent and can also be used to treat coccidiosis. Because many kinds of insects and pests dare not approach thyme, thyme can be planted in the botanical garden to resist pests. Thyme leaf extract can increase the secretion of bronchial mucosa. Thymol and carvacrol can promote the movement of cilia and are excreted from the lungs in their original form. Therefore, they have antiseptic and expectorant effects and can be used to treat tracheitis, whooping cough and other diseases.

  Thyme products come in many different forms, such as essential oil and dry powder. Among them, thyme essential oil can be used to treat a variety of stress-related diseases, and it is also an important ingredient in some soaps and perfumes; wild thyme can be used to make syrup or add honey to make tea beverages It can also be combined with other herbal extracts to make a mixed tea. This tea beverage also has the effect of curing headaches, anxiety and indigestion. Due to its antiseptic and antiseptic properties, Thyme Herbal Tea can be used as a cleaning agent to remove bacteria and fungi. Thyme can also be made into plasters to relieve pain and minor injuries, but people with allergies should use it with caution because it may cause allergic reactions.

  In Gansu and other places, people also use thyme as sheep feed, which can effectively reduce the use of antibiotics, so the meat quality of the sheep raised will be greatly improved. In addition, because the root system of thyme is particularly developed, it can form a huge root network underground after planting, which can effectively prevent soil erosion; at the same time, its branching ability is superb, the land is good, and it has strong drought tolerance and resistance. Frost ability, so it also has very broad application prospects in ecological restoration, landscaping, and environmental beautification.



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