Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea

Foxglove flowers
Foxglove flowers

This biennial is native to Europe, western and central Asia and northwestern Africa. This beautiful flower makes a good companion plant in the garden by encouraging surrounding plants to grow better. It also aids in the storage of root crops when grown in the same proximity.

Through the ages this plant has been used for medicine. Recorded use shows the plant in use from the time of the ancient Greeks to the medieval Welsh. There was belief that the plant cured innumerable issues. Culpepper (1616-1654) reported the use of Foxglove in the treatment of epilepsy (since proven false).

Today it is a recognized treatment for the heart. It having a tonic effect on the heart, allowing it to beat slower. At the same time it acts as a diuretic, stimulating urine flow. Great care must be exercised in its use however. If an excess is taken then the cardiac glycosides may produces the following side effects: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, severe headache, irregular and slow pulse, tremors, unusual color visions, convulsions, and even death.

Another use for this plant is in the use of extending the life of cut flowers by placing them in an infusion of the plant. Also an apple green dye may be obtained from using the flowers in a dye bath. If your garden has issues with browsing deer or rabbits then this is one of the plants for you! It is rarely grazed (probably due to the effects of the plant on the heart!)

To check out the use in magic read my earlier post.

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