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Digitalis purpurea or Common Foxglove

Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials and biennials. Foxgloves are very popular in British gardening, they are tall and add a lot of color and height to borders. Foxglove is part of the Plantaginaceae family of plants though it was previously classified in the Scrophulariaceae and the Veronicaceae families. This genus is native to Europe.

Digitalis is from the Latin word “Digitus” meaning finger. It was first named in 1542 in De historia stirpium commentarii insignes, by Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566). He was a German botanist and founded one of the first German botanical gardens. The flower Fuchsia is named after him. Fuchs in German means Fox.

Foxglove
Foxgloves in Hyde Park in London.

The common Foxglove is Digitalis purpurea but there are many other species and hybrids. Digitalis purpurea or Common Foxglove is the most popular and well-known species grown in gardens. It grows to about 2m or 6ft. Foxglove or Digitalis comes in shades of pink and purple and pure white. The flowers have spots on them.

How to grow Foxglove or Digitalis purpurea:

Digitalis purpurea is a biennial and thrives in acidic soil. Plant Foxglove in rich, moist soil, but well-drained, as it does not like soggy soil. Grow it in the sun or partial shade. Foxglove can be planted any time of the year. They self-seed but you might need to think the plants next season, and they will flower the year after. Foxglove is generally disease-free, but watch out for powdery mildew especially in hot and humid climates.

Foxglove
Digitalis purpurea, Common Foxglove

Foxglove is grown commercially for medications. Digitalis is also the name used in pharmaceuticals for substances extracted from this plant and used in medicine. Other names for this medicinal extract are cardiac glycosides and digoxin, used for a variety of heart conditions.

Due to these chemicals, the plant is toxic, the whole plant including its roots and seeds due to this they have also named it Dead Man’s Bells and Witch’s Gloves. Though they are beautiful in the gardens keep your children away from them.

About Online Flower Garden & Dino

I am a flower enthusiast and a gardener at heart. Ever since childhood I loved reading about plants and started gardening at an early age. First by helping my father in the garden and later managing a large garden myself in my teen years. I planted and cared for a large number of plants, flowers, and trees both outdoors and in a greenhouse. To this day I enjoy visiting gardens and parks and learning about new and old specimens and varieties of plants.

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