Information on Foxglove Flowers

Overview

The foxglove, or Digitalis purpurea, is a flowering plant native to Europe, but it is now common in some parts of the United States because of the spread of the plant into the environment from flower gardens. The foxglove contains a toxic substance, making it poisonous to humans, animals and livestock when ingested.

Appearance

The leaves of the foxglove are deep green and ovular in shape, with a distinctive point and teeth around the edges. The flowers of the foxglove grow in large, spike-like clusters of small, bell-shaped buds that are white with small, purple spots.

Time Frame

The foxglove is a biennial plant, meaning that it requires 2 years to complete a blooming cycle. When in bloom, the flowers of the foxglove last for about 6 days, according to Cornell University.

Size

Foxglove plants reach average heights of between 3 and 6 feet, reports Cornell University.

Risks

Symptoms of foxglove ingestion in humans include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headaches, slow and irregular pulse rate, shaking, hallucinations and convulsions, according to North Carolina State University.

Uses

Despite its poisonous effects, extracts from the foxglove flower are used to make digitonin drugs, which treat high blood pressure.

Warning

Because the dose needed to treat hypertension is close to a fatal dose, it is important not to self-medicate using wild foxglove flowers, according to Cornell University.

References

  • Cornell University: Digitalis Purpurea
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Digitalis Purpurea
  • University of North Carolina: Digitalis Purpurea
Keywords: digitalis purpurea, poisonous plants, digitonin drugs

About this Author

Hayley Harrison has writing experience since 1996 with more than 6,000 articles appearing on Answerbag, eHow, Trails and other websites. Harrison holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania, and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.

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