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Digitalis purpurea - L.
Common Name Foxglove, Purple foxglove, Common Foxglove
Family Scrophulariaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are highly poisonous[9, 10, 19, 65, 76, 222]. Unsafe for self-medication. Monitoring by a physician to determine correct dose recommended. For overdose give activated charcoal. Can be fatal especially to children [301].
Habitats Acid soils in woods, heaths, mountain grasslands etc[9, 17].
Range Western Europe, including Britain, from Norway to Spain and Sardinia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Digitalis purpurea Foxglove, Purple foxglove, Common Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea Foxglove, Purple foxglove, Common Foxglove
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Digitalis purpurea is a BIENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Digitalis alba. Digitalis campbelliana. Digitalis purpureolutea. Digitalis speciosa.

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiac;  Diuretic;  Homeopathy;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

The foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine in the treatment of heart complaints. It has a profound tonic effect upon a diseased heart, enabling the heart to beat more slowly, powerfully and regularly without requiring more oxygen[254]. At the same time it stimulates the flow of urine which lowers the volume of the blood and lessens the load on the heart[254]. The plant contains cardiac glycosides (including digoxin, digitoxin and lanatosides). Digitoxin rapidly strengthens the heartbeat but is excreted very slowly. Digoxin is therefore preferred as a long-term medication[254]. The leaves are cardiac, diuretic, stimulant and tonic[4, 9, 21, 46, 171]. The leaves should only be harvested from plants in their second year of growth, picked when the flowering spike has grown and about two thirds of the flowers have opened[4]. Harvested at other times, there is less of the medically active alkaloid present[4]. The seed has also been used in the past[4]. The leaves also have a very beneficial effect on the kidneys, they are strongly diuretic and are used with benefit in the treatment of dropsy[4]. Great care should be exercised in the use of this plant, the therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose[222]. See also the notes above on toxicity. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves[9]. It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders[9].


Other Uses
Dye;  Preservative.

An infusion of the plant prolongs the life of cut flowers[54]. Root crops growing near this plant store better[54]. An apple-green dye is obtained from the flowers[168]. Cut flower. Cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Specimen, Woodland garden. Easily grown in ordinary garden soil, especially if it is rich in organic matter[1]. Prefers a light dry soil in semi-shade[17] but succeeds in full sun if the soil is moist[200]. Grows well in acid soils[17]. Plants are hardy to about -25°c[187]. The foxglove is a very ornamental plant that is easily naturalized in the semi-shade of a woodland[1]. It contains glycosides and forms the basis of an important heart medicine for which it is cultivated commercially[4]. This species is commonly used by herbalists, whereas D. lanata is more commonly grown for supplying the pharmaceutical industry[238]. The plant contains much greater concentrations of the medically active ingredients when it is grown in a sunny position[115]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[4, 24]. Individual plants can produce up to 2 million seeds[4]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. A good companion plant, it stimulates the growth of nearby plants, growing well with pine trees[18, 20, 54]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers.
Seed - surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 20°c[175]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ in the spring or autumn.
Other Names
Foxglove, common foxglove, purple foxglove, lady's glove, Dedalera, Chupera.
Found In
Argentina, Asia, Brazil, Chile, China, most of temperate Europe, Mediterranean, North America, South America, Spain, Uruguay, UK.
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Aggressive - Foxgloves self-seeds prolifically.
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Digitalis ferrugineaRusty Foxglove02
Digitalis grandifloraLarge Yellow Foxglove02
Digitalis laevigata 02
Digitalis lanataGrecian Foxglove04
Digitalis luteaYellow Foxglove, Straw foxglove04


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Readers comment
Bob Martin   Sun May 20 2007
I have researched digoxin and it is not found in digitalis purpurea, but digitalis Digitalis lanata. I found this information in a PDR. It would be something wise to investigate.
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Subject : Digitalis purpurea  

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