Foxglove Digitalis spp is a striking plant for shade gardens, but it is also very poisonous and should be planted with this in mind. It reaches up to 5 feet tall and can spread to 18 inches. A multitude of thimble-shaped flowers will appear in the late spring of the second year in tall spikes in various pastel colors, depending on the variety. Throats are white with darker spots, usually burgundy.
Digitalis pupurea has purple to white flowers, though there are many different colored cultivars, including “alba” which is white without spots.
Digitalis ferruginea can get up to six feet tall and has red flowers.
Digitalis grandiflora has yellow flowers blotched with brown.
Merton foxglove or Strawberry Foxglove
Digitalis X mertonensis is a perennial (unlike all the others which are biennial) that can reach about three feet tall and has bright red flowers.
History and Folklore
The origin of the common name “foxglove” is unclear, but the original name may have been folksglove, referring to faerie folk.
The Latin name, digitalis comes from the word digitanus, meaning finger for the thimble-shaped flowers that look like you could fit your finger right inside.
Although foxglove is very dangerous if misused, it has a long history of medicinal use for heart and kidney problems, edema and aconite poisoning. Legend says that Van Gogh used it to treat his epilepsy.
|Magical Protection||In folklore, foxglove was believed to ward off evil spirits and provide protection against curses.|
|Love and Attraction||Foxglove was associated with love and attraction, and it was believed to attract faeries and love.|
|Healing Properties||Foxglove was traditionally used in herbal medicine to treat various ailments and heart conditions.|
|Connection to Nature||Foxglove was seen as a symbol of woodland and meadows, representing the beauty of nature.|
An old saying about foxglove goes “It can raise the dead and it can kill the living”.
In the 1700s, William Withering learned of this folk remedy from “an old woman in Shropshire” and studied it. This led to Digitalis being a very important plant-derived medicine for heart disease that is still in use to this day.
In Roman mythology, Flora showed Hera or Juno how to impregnate herself with no need of a man by touching a foxglove to her belly and her breasts. Depending on the source, she either gave birth to Mars or Vulcan from this method.
Scandinavian legend says that the faeries taught foxes to ring foxglove bells to warn each other of approaching hunters.
Foxglove, or digitalis, has a long association with witches and witchcraft.
Foxglove will grow in most zones, but not along the gulf coast. It likes a bit of sun, but scorches easily and requires a bit of shade in the latter part of the day. If you live in the deep south, it will do best in the deep shade. Foxglove germinates well from seed.
Just throw it down, no need to even cover it or fertilize it. Plant foxglove in moist but well-drained soil that is slightly acidic, but remember, they are biennial so you won’t get any blooms until next year.
It will then self-seed and you will need to divide the clumps every few years to prevent overcrowding. Mulching will prevent reseeding.
Harvesting & Storage
Cut flowers when they first bloom and hang upside down to dry.
Be sure to wear gloves when working with foxglove.
|Faerie Magick||Foxglove is believed to attract faeries and serves as a gateway to the realm of the fae.|
|Spellwork||The flowers and leaves of foxglove can be incorporated into spellwork for love, protection, and divination purposes.|
|Ritual Offerings||Foxglove can be used as an offering in rituals and ceremonies to honor nature spirits and deities associated with the plant.|
|Psychic Enhancement||It is believed that foxglove can enhance psychic abilities and facilitate spiritual growth and intuition.|
Juice or dew collected from foxgloves can be used in ritual to commune with the faeries and the leaves are said to help break faerie enchantments. Do not let it touch your skin; do not inhale the smoke if you burn the leaves!
Plant foxgloves anywhere you wish to invite the faeries to come visit.
Carry foxglove with you to attract faerie energy.
Foxglove is poisonous to humans but attracts bees and hummingbirds.
Chemicals are extracted from foxglove for the medical industry. Digitalis is a common medicine for heart patients. However, it is also a cardiac toxin and should never be used except under the care of a professional.
|Heart Conditions||Foxglove contains compounds used to treat heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure.|
|Anti-inflammatory Agent||The plant’s leaves and flowers have anti-inflammatory properties and were used to relieve pain.|
|Respiratory Support||Foxglove was historically used to alleviate respiratory issues, such as coughs and congestion.|
|Skin Conditions||Infusions and salves made from foxglove were applied topically to soothe various skin conditions.|
Note. Foxglove is a cardiac toxin. Do not eat.