Foxglove is a biennial plant cultivated in the U.S.. The stem is stout, succulent, simple and downy, growing to a height of 2 to 4 feet. The leaves are alternate, oblong-lanceolate, and downy. The flowers are purple to white spotted thimbles, 1-1/4 inches long, on spikes in summer of second year.
Other Names: Digitalis, American foxglove, dead
men’s bells, dog’s finger, fairy fingers, fairy gloves, finger flower, lion’s mouth, ladies’ glove
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon family)
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Leaves
Habitat: England, but grown in gardens in the U.S.
One of the most beautiful and stately of all plants is the foxglove. It is mentioned in several Anglo-Saxon herbals, where it is called “Foxes Glofa,” but country folk generally call it fairy thimbles.
Foxglove was brought from England to the United States, and it is grown sparingly here. Most herb farms cultivate it, but large amounts are imported from Germany.
Constituents: Several glycosides including digitoxin, gitoxin, and gitatoxin, which act on the heart muscle.
Properties: Cardiac. (Heart disease)
Main Uses: Foxglove is the source of a most famous plant-derived medicine, digitalis. It is, without question, a true medicinal plant.
Dried leaves are a source of heart-tonic glycosides. Used in modern medicine to increase force of systolic contractions in congestive heart failure; elevates blood pressure in weak heart; diuretic, reduces edema.
Warning WARNING: LETHALLY TOXIC! This extremely poisonous plant can cause paralysis and sudden death. RESTRICTED!
How To Grow:
Foxglove is grown from seed, though the germination is somewhat uncertain. Seeds must be sown annually to maintain an annual bloom. The soil should be rich and moist. The plants should be fertilized annually with compost and mulched in the fall to prevent winterkill.