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Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)

A popular ornamental, with tall spires of tapered, tubular, purple to pink or white flowers, common foxglove is also a source of digitoxin, used in the heart drug digitalis.
Common foxglove flowers

Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Digitalis purpurea L.

Common name: 

common foxglove, purple foxglove, fairy fingers, fairy gloves, fairy bells, floppy dock, tod-tails

Conservation status: 

Not threatened. Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Open places, especially woodland clearings, heaths and mountainsides and also waste ground (especially on disturbed sites and as a pioneer on burnt areas); on acid or calcareous soils; also as a garden escape.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten. Contact with plant material can cause irritation.


Genus: Digitalis

About this species

Digitalis purpurea was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in his pivotal publication Species Plantarum in 1753. The generic name Digitalis comes from the Latin for finger (digitus), referring to the shape of the flowers. The specific epithet purpurea refers to the colour of the flowers, which are frequently purple (although a white-flowered form is fairly common). Common foxglove is a popular ornamental, and many hybrids and cultivars are available.


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