Daily Archives: July 1, 2018

Foxgloves

The tall white, pink, and purplish flowers standing like spikes around the edge of the garden are foxgloves (digitalis). I found the name fascinating, imagining a fox wearing the tiny blooms of this plant on his feet. Each of the many flowers on the stalks is shaped like a  sock or a glove, just perfect for a fox to put a paw into.

This plant has many common names. I first learned its name in German when my mother told me it was called “Fingerhut,” which means, literally, finger hat, and is the word for “thimble.”  The Latin name “digitalis” is also to do with fingers (digits).

Did you know that digoxin, extracted from foxglove, is used as a heart medicine? But don’t go eating foxglove thinking you’ll get a healthy heart from it. The opposite would most likely occur. All parts of the plant are toxic.

Although it is unlikely to be eaten by children or pets, I want to be careful. I try to keep my foxgloves growing mainly inside the garden fence.

In the photo above, you can see that the bells of the foxgloves gradually open starting from the bottom of the plant. The top buds are the last to open. The bottom ones will be the first to go to seed. I had to wait to see what shape the topmost flower would have. I wanted to compare it to this oddball below.

In the photo of the pale foxglove, the topmost flower opened like a wide bell facing upwards. All the other foxglove plants have drooping bell-shaped flowers right to the top.

I don’t know if it’s a different variety of foxglove or just an anomaly. Maybe it’s the teacup for the fox to sip from while he puts his gloves on. That would get his ticker racing.