Foxglove - Pink Wildflowers
Western Isles Wildflowers - Foxglove. This spectacular plant can be seen in the woodland around the Stornoway Castle and is spectacular from June to August
Stems hold up to 75 flowers
With its single stems holding up to 75 flowers on the one stem. Lovely pink, purple or white tubular shaped flowers
Blossoms Fall away
As the blossoms on the main stem gradually fall away, smaller lateral shoots are often thrown out from its lower parts, which remain in flower after the principal stem has shed its blossoms
The Flower marks Entice Bees
The flowers have dark browny-purple spots which are actual markings which are honey guides for bees.
The bees are enticed into the flowers as the spots show up vividly in ultra-violet light. The bees see in ultra violet light which explains why these flowers are so popular with them
The bees actually crawl right inside the flowers. The bee travels from flower to flower and rubs pollen thus from one flower to another and this is how the flower is fertilised and seeds are produced
Stem and Leaves
It's stem is stout, simple and softly downy and grows to 2 - 4 feet in height.
The leaves are alternate - arranged on opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are, rounded but quite narrow and long.
The Foxglove Name Derivation
The Foxglove gets its common name from the shape of the flowers being shaped like a finger of a glove.
It was originally Folksglove (not foxglove) - the glove of the 'good folk' or fairies who frequented the places where this flowers grows in the woodlands.
Folklore - Elves - Fairies - Witches
Some say that the spots on the flowers are evidence of elves or fairies having placed their fingers on the flowers.
Witches Used Foxgloves
Witches used foxgloves in ointment rubbed on their thighs to help them fly.
Foxglove juice was believed to ward off fairies who tried to kidnap children.
Bad Luck to Bring Flowers Into the house
It is said that it brings bad luck if the foxglove are brought into the house.
Anglo Saxon Name
Another derivative for the name is that the plants Anglo-Saxon name "foxes glofa" (the glove of the fox) is derived from a northern legend.
THe legend says that bad fairies gave the blossoms to the fox to put on his toes, so that he might soften his tread while he hunted for prey.
Other names for the foxglove are fairy thimble, fairy caps, bee catchers, lion's mouth.
Medicinal Uses and Poisons
The use of foxglove for it's medical properties dates back to the Romans.
The Romans used foxglove as both a rat poison and a heart tonic. In the Middle Ages, the plant was used to treat external ulcers and also as a cough medicine or expectorant. The whole plant is toxic so has earned itself sinister nicknames such as ‘dead man’s bells’ or dead men's fingers
Foxgloves are the pharmaceutical source of the heart drug digitalis, which is poisonous in overdose
There is a tradition in the Scotland where the foxglove leaves are popped into a new born baby's cradle and this is said to protect the baby from being bewitched
|Inches and cm sizes are approximate|