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Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Arenaria serpyllifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, walls, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
The white unnotched petals are much shorter than the green, pointed, oval sepals. Similar to Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum) but Fairy Flax does not have the long pointed visible sepals between the petals. Yellow anthers. 10 stamens. 3 styles. Pollinated by insects.
6-parted, light brown and pear-shaped.
An annual or biennial with very small, oval-to-triangular, pointed leaves. The leaves appear in opposite pairs up the stems. The lowest leaves are stalked and upper are unstalked.
Other Names:
Thymeleaf Sandwort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia var. serpyllifolia) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is a low-growing herb that typically grows in sandy or rocky habitats, such as coastal dunes, grasslands and rocky outcrops. It is native to North America, Europe and Asia. It has small white flowers and leaves that are linear and opposite. It prefers full sun, well-drained soils and is often used as a ground cover, in rock gardens and as a filler in wildflower mixtures. The species is considered a threatened or endangered in some regions due to habitat loss and over-collection.


Thyme-leaved Sandwort, also known as Arenaria serpyllifolia, is a small and delicate flowering plant that belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family. It is a common species found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia.

This plant is an annual or perennial herb that grows up to 15cm tall, with thin, branching stems that are covered with small, opposite leaves that are no more than 1cm in length. The leaves are oblong and pointed, with a slightly curled or rolled edge, which gives the plant a unique texture and appearance.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort blooms from May to September, producing clusters of small white flowers that are about 5mm in diameter. The flowers have five petals, which are deeply notched, and a green calyx that is covered with tiny hairs. The blooms are highly fragrant, and their scent is often compared to that of thyme or oregano.

This plant thrives in dry, sandy, or gravelly soils, and it can be found in a wide range of habitats, including open fields, meadows, woodland clearings, and along roadsides. Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a hardy species that is able to tolerate drought, and it can grow in areas with full sun or partial shade.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a valuable plant in traditional medicine, and it has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems, and skin conditions. The plant is rich in flavonoids and other compounds that are known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Thyme-leaved Sandwort is also a popular ornamental plant, and it is often grown in rock gardens or as a ground cover in landscaping. It is easy to cultivate from seed, and it requires little maintenance once established.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a fascinating and versatile plant that is prized for its delicate beauty, aromatic fragrance, and medicinal properties. Whether growing wild in natural habitats or cultivated in gardens, this plant is a true gem of the botanical world.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort is also an important food source for various wildlife species, including birds, insects, and small mammals. The plant's small white flowers are a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, and its seeds are a valuable food source for many small seed-eating birds, such as sparrows and finches.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort can also play a role in soil conservation and erosion control, as its deep roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion in areas with sandy or gravelly soils. The plant is also able to grow in nutrient-poor soils, making it a useful species for land reclamation and restoration projects.

While Thyme-leaved Sandwort is not currently considered a threatened or endangered species, its natural habitats are under threat from human activities such as development, agriculture, and mining. It is important to protect and conserve the natural habitats where this plant grows in order to preserve its biodiversity and ecological value.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a fascinating and versatile plant that has numerous uses and benefits, from its medicinal properties to its role in wildlife habitat and soil conservation. As with all species of plants and animals, it is important to understand and appreciate the value of this plant, and to work to protect and conserve its natural habitats for future generations to enjoy.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort has also been used in traditional folk remedies for various ailments. Its leaves have been used to make a tea that is believed to have diuretic, antiseptic, and expectorant properties. The tea has been used to treat urinary tract infections, coughs, and colds.

In some cultures, Thyme-leaved Sandwort has been used to treat skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. A poultice made from the plant's leaves is applied to affected areas to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

The plant has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is believed to have cooling and detoxifying properties. In Chinese medicine, Thyme-leaved Sandwort is used to treat fever, sore throat, and respiratory infections.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a popular ornamental plant. Its low-growing habit and delicate white flowers make it an attractive ground cover in rock gardens and other landscaping applications. It is also useful for filling in gaps between larger plants in mixed borders.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a relatively easy plant to grow, and it requires little maintenance once established. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is a hardy species that is able to tolerate drought, and it can grow in a range of soil types.

In conclusion, Thyme-leaved Sandwort is a valuable plant with numerous uses and benefits. Its delicate beauty, fragrant flowers, and medicinal properties make it a popular species for gardeners and herbalists alike. It is important to protect and conserve this plant's natural habitats to ensure that it remains a valuable part of our ecosystems and cultures.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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