Zataria multiflora var. elatior Boiss.
Shrub up to (30-) 60-80 cm; lower branches woody, much branched, leafless; young branches white with a dense eglandular, spreading, pilose indumentum. Leaves 5-10 x 5-10 mm, orbicular ovate to orbicular, rounded to cuneate-truncate at base, whitish pubescent when young, glabrescent, gradually merging above into bracts. Flowering stems unbranched or with short lateral branches. Verticillasters mostly remote, 6-12, 8-10-flowered, crowded, sometimes basal ones on short lateral peduncles. Bracts narrow oblong, shorter than calyces. Calyx c. 2 mm long, with a ± dense eglandular spreading indumentum and numerous reddish sessile oil globules; throat villous; teeth 5 subequal, triangular. Corolla white c. 3 mm, externally somewhat pilose and with oil globules. Nutlets ovoid, scarcely trigonous, often 1 only developing.
Fl. Per.: May-October.
Type: S Iran [without exact locality] Aucher-Eloy (G!, K!).
Distribution: S. Iran, E. Afghanistan, Pakistan.
The generic name derives from the arabic word "Za'atar" meaning thyme. Although some field notes record that the plant has a thyme-like fragrance and there is some slight facies resemblance to some Mediterranean Thymus and indeed Origanum, the affinities of the genus are uncertain and it seems to be an isolated relict genus.
Even in a sterile state Zataria can be recognized by the orbicular, densely gland-dotted, ovate leaves and the densely white hairy round buds in the leaf ails. Relatively few of the specimens examined, Pakistan or otherwise, had hermaphrodite flowers, the majority being male-sterile and a few apparently female-sterile. Field observations on sexual variation within plants and populations would be an interesting study.