Culture

Plant Focus: Foxglove

image credit Rosie Hopkins

The foxglove can be quite a tall plant and it is beautiful but it has other properties. Digitalis purpurea – the foxglove – contains a chemical called digitalis that can be used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure by raising blood flow and increasing the body’s defence mechanisms. However, the plant is poisonous if consumed directly, and can cause a number of health problems.

This plant is found across the British Isles.

Foxgloves are an important source of pollen for bees. The species has evolved to be especially attractive to long-tongued bees such as the common carder bee. The brightly coloured flowers and dark spotted lip attracts the bee, while the lower lip of the flower allows the insect to land before climbing up the tube. In doing so, the bee will drop pollen from other foxgloves, allowing the plant to reproduce.

Woodland Trust

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  1. Well Rosie – you liked Ted Hughes’ Poppy – here’s his foxglove…….

    SUNSTRUCK FOXGLOVE

    As you bend to touch
    The gypsy girl
    Who waits for you in the hedge
    Her loose dress falls open.

    Midsummer ditch-sickness!

    Flushed, freckled with earth-fever,
    Swollen lips parted, her eyes closing,
    A lolling armful, and so young! Hot

    Among the insane spiders,
    You glimpse the reptile under-speckle
    Of her sunburned breasts
    And your head swims. You close your eyes.

    Can the foxes talk? Your head throbs.
    Remember the bird’s tolling echo,
    The dripping fern-roots, and the butterfly touches
    That woke you.

    Remember your mother’s
    Long, dark dugs.

    Her silky body a soft oven
    For loaves of pollen.

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