Name: Digitalis Pupurea
Beautiful, elegant foxglove, that innocent exclamation mark in every cottage garden, is as insincere as they come.
Also called Dead Man’s Bells and Witch’s Gloves, foxglove is extremely toxic, a very small amount, even water from its vase, would be enough to affect the heart and cause nausea, delirium, vomiting and wild hallucinations and visual colour effects. Vincent van Gogh’s “Yellow Period” may have been influenced by digitalis therapy, thought to control seizures at the time. A Digitalis extract has been used since 1785 in the treatment of heart problems although even then it seems to have its downsides.
Knowing this, it’s hard to look at it in the same way.
The scientific name means “finger-like”, referring to the fit of the flower over a fingertip. Old English has it as foxes glofe/glofa ‘fox’s glove’.