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Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)
These tall stately cottage garden flowers are native to Southern Europe and Asia. Used for hundreds of years by herbalists to treat mostly external injuries such as swelling, bruises, and cleaning old sores, it is now the source of digitalis, a very important plant medicine used as a blood circulation stimulant and to treat heart disease.
Foxgloves can also be beneficial when used in flower arrangements by helping to preserve other species of flowers in the bouquet. In the garden, foxgloves can help stimulate the growth of root vegetables, especially potatoes. However, care should be taken, as foxgloves are a poisonous plant.
One foxglove plant can produce 1-2 million seeds. They like well-drained soil and prefer light shade but will tolerate full sun.
Of the many common names for foxglove, one of the oldest is “folksglove,” the glove of the “good folk” or fairies who like to dwell in the glens where wild foxgloves are found to grow. Foxgloves are also a favorite of bees and other insects who like to crawl into the blossoms to shelter from the rain and cold.
artwork by Bente King © 2003
text be Anne Trawick