Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea L.

Synonyms -

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Names:

Digitalis is from the Latin word meaning finger and refers to the finger like flowers
Purpurea Is from the Latin word meaning purple and refers to the flower colour.
Foxglove refers to the shape of the flowers.

Other Names:

Summary:

An annual, biennial or perennial, erect herb with a single, 1 m long flower spike covered in large, bell (or glove) shaped, purple, white or pink flowers in spring to summer. It usually produces a rosette of large, fuzzy, grey-green leaves in the first year and flowers in the second.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

First leaves:

Leaves:

Stipules -
Petiole - Longer on rosette leaves than stem leaves.
Blade - Oval, -250 mm long x -120 mm wide, green, furry, finely wrinkled on top woolly underneath. Bluntly toothed edges.
Stem leaves - Alternate.

Stems:

Erect, round, unbranched, up to 2500 mm tall. Densely hairy

Flower head:

Long one sided tapering spike.

Flowers:

Tubular, white or pinkish-purple with dark purple spots inside.
Ovary -
Sepals -
Petals - Tubular, up to 30 mm diameter
Stamens -
Anthers -

Fruit:

Egg shaped capsules, 10-15 mm long with many seeds.

Seeds:

Tiny, Oblong, pitted.

Roots:

Fibrous.

Key Characters:

Tubular, white or pinkish-purple with dark purple spots inside.
Long one sided tapering spike.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual, biennial or perennial herb.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

Pollinated by Bumblebees

Flowering times:

October to January in New Zealand.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.

Origin and History:

South west and central Europe.
Worldwide distribution

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC, WA.
Worldwide distribution.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.

Soil:

Lime free.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental. Medicinal. Source of a heart stimulant, digitalis.

Detrimental:

Weed of burned areas, disturbed areas, roadside, fence lines, coastal areas and poor pastures.
Invasive weed of the USA.

Toxicity:

All parts of the plant are toxic, especially the seeds.
Rarely eaten by stock.
Toxic to cattle, wildlife and humans.
Each year people die from drinking tea made from Foxglove leaves when they mistake it for Comfrey.

Symptoms:

Treatment:

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Avoid burning. Improve pasture by planting well adapted species and applying adequate fertiliser. Foxgloves may be common in newly developed pastures but usually disappear as the pasture establishes.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Young plants can be manually removed. This needs to be repeated for several years. Herbicides are often only partially effective because they can't penetrate the furry leaves. Try adding Pulse® Penetrant if treating with herbicides.

Herbicide resistance:

Relatively tolerant to glyphosate and other herbicides.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Ornamentals such as Veronica, Antirrhinum (Snapdragons), Calceolaria, Nemesia, Penstemon, Mimulus, Bartsia, Bellardia and Parentucellia.

Plants of similar appearance:

Comfrey.

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P220. Photo.

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #346.1.

Roy, B., Popay, I., Champion, P., James, T. and Rahman, A. (1998). An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand. (New Zealand Plant Protection Society). P245. Photo.

Randall, J.M. and Marinelli, J. (1996) Invasive Plants. (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Inc. Brooklyn). P76. Photo.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.