Herb of the Week for 2nd of November
By Lynn Kirkland
The common names
for foxgloves; Witches' Gloves, Dead Men's Bells, Gloves of our Lady, Bloody Fingers
and Foxes Gloves, show how this herb has two sides to its uses.
It is one of
those plants that can kill or cure as it contains powerful substances and is definitely
not one for home use.
Foxgloves are used as ornamentals in the garden and
of course grow wild on farmland throughout New Zealand. They appear in shades
of purple and white and there are hybrid ornamentals now in apricot shades and
The variety in the photo is digitalis purpurea. The purpurea
refers to the colour of the flower. The variety of foxglove which is grown commercially
to extract the cardiac glycoside to produce digoxin is digitalis lanata. This
variety has woolly leaves and yellow brown flowers. Netherlands is the country
where it is grown on a commercial scale.
In the 16th century foxglove was
used to treat dropsy which is swelling due to fluid build up. Nowadays the pharmaceutical
drug digoxin is used for congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation.
you have foxgloves in your garden they will self sow if you allow the flowers
to set seed. Foxgloves are biennials and will flower in their second year.
is interesting to look upon these statuesque flowering spires and know that they
have close relatives in their plant family providing help for many people with
Please remember that this is strictly an ornamental herb.
lynn another great read.
The HerbFarm Website: