Foxglove

FoxgloveFoxglove — Foxglove, Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials that was traditionally placed in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae. Due to new genetic research, it has now been placed in the much enlarged family Plantaginaceae. The genus is native to Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa. The members of this genus are known in English as foxgloves. The scientific name means “finger-like” and refers to the ease with which a flower of Digitalis purpurea can be fitted over a human fingertip. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in colour with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow. The best-known species is the Common Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. It is a biennial, often grown as an ornamental plant due to its showy flowers, that range in colour from purples through to whites, with variable marks and spotting. The first year of growth produces only the long, basal leaves. In the second year, the erect leafy stem 0.5-2.5 m tall develops. The larvae of the Foxglove Pug feed on the flowers of Digitalis purpurea. Other Lepidoptera species feed on the leaves including Lesser Yellow Underwing.

The term digitalis is also used for preparations containing cardiac glycosides, particularly digoxin, extracted from plants of this genus.

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