ĀVĪŠAN, wild thyme. The genus Thymus of the family Labiatae (mint family) comprises a number of fragrant aromatic undershrubs, with very small leaves and whorls of small purplish, nectar-bearing flowers in the axils of the leaves or at the ends of the branches. The Kotschy thyme (āvīæān-e bārīk, Thymus kotschyanus Boiss. et Hohen., locally called avīæam, avæam, ābæan, āyæūm [Alborz, Lar], odæan, ūæan, oæna-ye kūhī, ṣaʿtar, kaklik-oti [Šarafḵāna in Azerbaijan], kālvāæ [some northern districts], āzorba [Ganjnāma of Hamadān, used for both Thymus kotschyanus and Thymus serpillum), jowæan-e æīrāzī [in the bazaars of Tehran], Ar. ṣaʿtar/saʿtar) is a low perennial, strongly aromatic, wild undershrub with many varieties distributed in the higher regions of northwest Iran, in the Alborz mountains, and in Khorasan. Dried leaves and floral tops, which contain oil of thyme, are used for flavoring soups, sausages, sauces, and various vegetable and meat dishes. Aqua or ʿaraq-e āvīæan, used for flavoring sherbets, is obtained by soaking dried leaves and floral tops in water. Around Tehran dried āvīæan is used with a refreshing drink made of a mixture of yogurt, water, and salt (dūḡ).
Mother-of-thyme (Thymus serpillum, locally oæm, oæma, āzorba) is another widespread thyme of Iran. Both thymes are carminative, stomachic, diuretic, digestive, and flatulent. They may be used for liver and respiratory disorders. Maḵzan al-adwīa (p. 256) and Toḥfa-ye Ḥakīm Moʾmen (pp. 563-64) attribute the apperitive, diuretic, vermifuge, emmenagogue, and antacid properties of thyme.
Āvīæan-e æīrāzī is one of the species of the genus Zataria.
M. ʿAlī-Akbar Khan Āæpaz-bāæī, Sofra-ye aṭʿema, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, p. 83.
J. Jalas, “Thymus,” in K. H. Rechinger, Flora Iranica, Cont. 150, Graz, 1982.
Ḥakīm Moḥammad Moʾmen Tonokābonī, Toḥfa-ye Ḥakīm Moʾmen, Tehran (1402/1981).
Sayyed Moḥammad-Ḥosayn ʿAlawī Ḵorāsānī Šīrāzī, Maḵzan al-adwīa together with Qarābāḏīn-e kabīr, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, p. 273.
Ḥ. Ṯābetī, Deraḵthā wa deraḵṭčahā-ye jangalī-e Īrān (Forest trees and shrubs of Iran), 2nd ed., Tehran, 1355 Š./1976, pp. 747ff.
(R. A. Parsa)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
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Vol. III, Fasc. 1, p. 110