Digitalis, commonly known as Foxglove, is a genus of about 25 species of herbaceous plants in the family Plantaginaceae, native to Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa.
This eye-catching, dramatic plant bears clusters of tall, pendulous tubular or bell-shaped flowers. Attractive and distinct, Foxgloves are easily recognizable wild flowers widely known for their toxicity, as well as medical properties.
The genus name comes from the Latin word “digitus”, meaning “finger”, because the plant can be easily fitted over a finger.
Digitalis is commonly known as “Foxglove”. This common name comes from the old Anglo-Saxon “foxes-glofa” meaning “the glove of the fox”, because the plant looks like a fox’s paw. There was also a legend that foxes would put the flowers on their feet to sneak up on prey.
Foxglove is a plant with both poisonous and medicinal properties, so it symbolizes protection and healing, but it also represents danger.
Interesting facts about Digitalis
Is Digitalis poisonous?
Digitalis is extremely poisonous because of the presence of powerful chemicals that can cause the heart rate to slow down or become irregular. All parts of the plant are toxic, including flowers, leaves, sap, seeds and roots. Consuming the plant, even dried, causes serious health problems, such as tremors, convulsions, hallucinations, blurred vision and even death.
Benefits and Uses of Digitalis
Even though it’s highly poisonous, Foxglove is well known as a source of medication. Its toxic chemicals are used to make a drug called digoxin. These chemicals can help people suffering from congestive heart failure, asthma, irregular heartbeat, epilepsy, tuberculosis, headache and spasm by increasing the heart blood output and strength of heart muscle contractions. However, it’s not recommended to use Foxglove for self medication.
Digitalis Plant Data
These flowers appear in shades of white, yellow, pink, red and purple.
Foxgloves are tall beauties which can grow up to 180 cm (6 ft), depending on variety.
The plant grows best in moist and well drained soil, with a pH between 6 and 7.5.