The Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
This lovely plant can be found growing in fields and near forests, but also in your garden! However, despite it being common, it can also be deadly. So what is this plant and why is its beauty so deceiving? Let's look at the science and find out for ourselves!
Physical Description and Behavior
The Foxglove is a Herbaceous Biennial plant that can be as much as 7 feet tall. They start to flower in their second year, creating bulbs of bright purple flowers. The inside of these flowers have brownish-black spots, and they are white near the base of the petals.
Aside from how beautiful this plant looks in gardens, humans and many other mammals ingesting this plant can potentially die. This is due to the cardiac glycoside digitoxin it has in large quantities. This is seen in high amounts in the flowers, leaves, and seeds of the plant.
Despite the toxic effects, this plant has been used as an herbal remedy for heart failure for several hundred years. It can also be used for reducing fluid retention by increasing urine flow. That said, the natural extractions of their plant also causes severe nausea and vomiting, and the effects can range drastically. This is why this digitoxin was created into a synthetic form, which is far more useful without the risks.
Habitat and Location
While this plant can be found from the Southern United States all the way up to Canada and Alaska, it was native to the areas of Portugal and Spain. In the state of California, it is considered to be an invasive species.
Due to their ability to grow in a variety of temperatures, they can invade habitats easily, even during the winter months.
Find out more about this plant by watching the video below!