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Plantaginaceae Juss formerly in Scrophulariaceae
Digitalis purpurea

Type Categories Useful Parts


Plantaginaceae Juss formerly in Scrophulariaceae Family

Digitalis Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Fairy Gloves, Fairy Caps, Fox's Glew, Witch's thimble and Bloody Bells, Fairy Petticoats, Fairy Thimbles, Fairy Fingers, Fairy Weed, Fox Mittens, Witches Bells, Folks Gloves, and Fox Bells


Native to Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa. Western Europe, including Britain, from Norway to Spain and Sardinia.

Physical Description
The first year of growth produces only the long, basal leaves. In the second year, the erect leafy stem 0.5-2.5 m tall develops. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in colour with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow.

General Information

Any of some twenty plants in the genus Digitalis, foxglove had been used as a medicine by hosts of people, from ancient Greeks to medieval Welsh. During the Middle Ages in Western Europe, it was believed to cure a whole range of diseases for which it is actually useless. In the mid-1600s, for example, the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended foxglove for treating epilepsy.
The foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognized stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine in the treatment of heart complaints. It has a profound tonic effect upon a diseased heart, enabling the heart to beat more slowly, powerfully, and regularly without requiring more oxygen. At the same time it stimulates the flow of urine, which lowers the volume of the blood and lessens the load on the heart. The plant contains cardiac glycosides (including digoxin, digitoxin and lanatosides). Digitoxin rapidly strengthens the heartbeat but is excreted very slowly. Digoxin is therefore preferred as a long-term medication. The leaves are cardiac, diuretic, stimulant, and tonic. The leaves also have a very beneficial effect on the kidneys; they are strongly diuretic and are used with benefit in the treatment of dropsy. Great care should be exercised in the use of this plant; the therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders
It was believed that if you picked the tall spires of foxglove -- the most legendary of fairy flowers -- you would offend the fairies, but growing them in your garden would surely please the pixies!
The delicate pink or white, bell-shaped blossoms are covered with tiny flecks that are said to be fairy fingerprints.
Due to Cardiac glycosides in the leaves, flowers, seeds if a mammal ingests this plant toxic results occur. The signs of toxicity are: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, severe headache, irregular and slow pulse, tremors, unusual color visions, convulsions.


Field of Foxglove



Comment: Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

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