Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
The foxglove flower itself is an elegant, very beautiful flower. The bell shaped flutes can be the most common purple, or can come in pinks or white as well. All colors are accented by a freckled pattern scattered upon the pale interior of the bell. The trumpet-like blooms cluster together on the tall stem in a dramatic presence that hummingbirds and bees find irresistible.
Despite its beautiful appearance and its appeal to hummingbirds and bees, foxglove has another feature that must acknowledge before including it in their garden plans. Every part of this plant is highly poisonous.
There have been reports of people being poisoned by simply inhaling the spores exuded by the seed pods that form in the fall. So dangerous is the plant when consumed or through inhalation that it has become known by a few other names such as Dead Man’s Bells and Witch’s Gloves. For the gardener who has small children or pets that may wander through the garden, impulsively placing little fingers or little noses into the thimble sized blooms, growing foxglove plants may not be the best idea.
The leaves are particularly toxic, proving to be potentially life threatening even if simply chewed upon. It should not be overlooked, however, that the entire plant is poisonous, including the roots.
The toxin that makes foxglove poisonous to humans is an extremely beneficial substance in the hands of medical professionals of today. Researchers and scientists have correctly isolated the properties of the drug and how to apply it toward improving health conditions. An extract of Foxglove is used to create medicines that are highly useful in treating heart conditions. It can be very successful in controlling the heart rate and to increase the ability of the heart to contract.
When the full properties of the foxglove plant are fully understood and accommodated by the gardener, foxglove can be a beautiful addition to the garden. Despite its toxic attributes, it can certainly be a striking display of colorful blooms in the garden.
I have been growing these beautiful plants in my gardens for over 25 yrs. They are just so beautiful.