Definition of Foxglove

Discover the definition of foxglove, a flowering plant with medicinal properties and toxic effects. Explore its uses, dangers, and historical significance.

What is Foxglove?

Foxglove, also known as Digitalis purpurea, is a flowering plant native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It is characterized by its tall spikes of tubular flowers that come in shades of pink, purple, white, and yellow.

Uses of Foxglove

Foxglove has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its cardiac glycosides, which have effects on the heart. These compounds are used to treat various heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure.

In addition to its medicinal uses, foxglove is also a popular ornamental plant in gardens for its striking appearance and ability to attract pollinators.

Foxglove Poisoning

While foxglove can be beneficial in controlled doses, it is highly toxic if ingested in large quantities. Foxglove poisoning can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and irregular heart rhythms. In severe cases, it can be fatal.

Case Studies

One notable case of foxglove poisoning occurred in the 18th century when the famous naturalist Carl Linnaeus’ son ingested the plant and suffered from severe symptoms. Although he survived, the incident highlighted the dangers of foxglove ingestion.


According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were over 10,000 reported cases of plant exposures involving foxglove in 2020. While most cases were minor, a significant number required medical treatment.

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