Foxglove / Spring / Summer / Autumn / Toxic
A very common summer flowering native plant, it’s potentially deadly poisonous so one every forager should be familiar with.
Foxgloves, Foxes gloves, thimble flower, fairy gloves.
Digitalis. There are quite a few Digitalis species the most common being Digitalis Purpurea.
Kingdom – Plantae
Order – Lamiales
Family – Plantaginaceae
Physical Characteristics for Foxglove
The stems are erect and hairy with the flowers tending to nod to one side.
The leaves grow from a central rosette, they are deep green, simple and hairy, 10-25cm long and 5-10cm across.
In its second year the plant produces a flowering spike sometimes up to 6 feet tall. The trumpet shaped flowers are most often purple, 1-3cm long and around 1-1.5cm in diameter. The flowers develop into seeds pods containing thousands of tiny black seeds.
Hedgerows, fields, woodlands, disturbed ground.
All parts of this plant are potentially deadly toxic. Consumption depending on the amount comsumed causes gastrointestinal disturbances and pain, severe headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, cardiac arrhythmias, as well as sometimes resulting in xanthopsia (jaundiced or yellow vision).
Could be Confused with…
The leaves do look similar to Green Alkanet or Borage, but once it flowers it’s hard to confuse it with anything else.
Notes on Herbal Uses
The plant is the original source of the heart medicine digoxin which is used to treat certain heart conditions such as an irregular heartbeat. It should not be used by untrained professions under any circumstances.
Extra notes from the Foragers
Foxgloves may have been responsible for Vincent van Gogh’s “Yellow Period” as it had been proposed as a therapy to control epilepsy around this time, and there are two paintings by the artist where the plant is present. It has also appeared in the film ‘Casino Royale’ where Bond is poisoned by Digitalis.