Isles of Scilly Wildflower Of The Week - Foxglove

Isles of Scilly Wildflower Of The Week - Foxglove. 

Isles of Scilly Wildflower Of The Week - Foxglove. 

This week's Isles of Scilly Wildflower Of The Week was Foxglove - Digitalis Purpurea.

Foxglove is found on all the inhabited islands and most of the uninhabited islands. This is a stately showy plant that can dominate a skyline or form a great splash of purple.

The flower spikes can grow up to 2 meters with buds at the top sequentially opening to the bell like flowers below. The flowers become fruit resembling fairy caps with a star shaped brim. 

The botanical name, digitalis purpurea, means a purple flower that looks a bit like the finger of a glove. The common name, Foxglove, is not that the flowers would make gloves for foxes, but probably its derived from the Anglo-Saxon word glofa, for a musical instrument made up of lots of small bells and the word folk meaning the little folk or fairies.

Foxgloves are poisonous, but makes the drug digitalis which is used in the treatment of heart complaints. This was discovered in 1785 by William Withering. It was his findings that it acted on the heart and that the dose was critical, too much and the heart would stop, that led to the control of pharmaceuticals.

This country has imported leaves of a different species of foxglove to make modern drugs for years. In the Second World War it was difficult to get these leaves and it was the Woman's Institute who organised the County Herb Committees to gather large amounts for Britain.

You can listen to Liz's Wildflower Of The Week below and Liz will have a brand new wildflower for you next Wednesday at 10:30am.