Photos of Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove, Digitalis, Common Foxglove.

Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove, Digitalis, Common Foxglove, a well-known ornamental biennial in flower and herb gardens. Native to Europe and widely cultivated throughout the world, in the American Northwest and Northeast it is widely naturalized. In 1785, William Withering, an English physician, brought foxglove’s diuretic and dropsy-relieving properties to light, an effect induced by the highly toxic, cardiac stimulant glycosides in the plant. By the late nineteenth century, it was widely prescribed by physicians as a cardiotonic and diuretic. Today, isolated digoxins are used as a cardiac stimulant for cardiac insufficiency and rhythm abnormalities. The purified digoxins are used in highly controlled dosages, either orally or as injections in conventional medicinal. The herb itself is no longer used as a crude drug as the therapeutic and toxic dosages are very close quantitatively and can lead to life-threatening symptoms. Considered a poisonous plant. The first year basal rosette of leaves of this biennial have been mistaken for Comfrey leaves with fatal consequences.

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