Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea
Herb
Alternate
Simple
Purple
Green

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.

Common names 
Also known as: common foxglove, purple foxglove, annual foxglove, digitalis, fairy glove, finger flower,
Family 
Scrophulariaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Flowers in early summer.
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to northern Africa (i.e. Morocco) and Europe (i.e. Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, UK, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain).
Notifiable 
No
State declaration 
Nil
Council declaration 
Class E - Early detection and eradication
Known distribution 

Naturalised in some parts of south-eastern Australia (i.e. eastern New South Wales, southern and eastern Victoria and throughout most of Tasmania).

Also naturalised overseas in New Zealand, Turkey, South America (i.e. Brazil and Chile), Canada and the northern parts of USA (including Alaska).

Habitat 

Moist and wet sclerophyll forest, riparian areas and rainforest in temperate areas

Habit 

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

Impact and control methods 

Due to the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, in the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant, it is extremely poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if eaten. All plant parts must be handled with extreme care. Foxglove is able to rapidly spread and totally exclude native flora and fauna. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea ) is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria and Tasmania. This garden escape has invaded moist and wet sclerophyll forest, riparian areas and rainforests in both of these states.


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Stem and leaves 

The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 10-35 cm long and 5-12 cm broad, and are covered with gray-white pubescent and glandular hairs. The foliage forms a tight rosette at ground level in the first year.

Flowers and fruits 

The flowers are a tubular bell shaped which cluster at the top of the stem. Foxglove flowers come in a variety of mottled colours including white, yellow, purple or pink. These usually hang to one side of the spike. Flowering occurs over a long period from spring to autumn. The flowering stem develops in the second year, from about 1-2 m tall. The flowers are arranged in a showy, terminal, elongated cluster. The corolla is spotted inside the bottom of the tube. The fruit is an egg shaped capsule which splits open at maturity to release the numerous tiny 0.1-0.2 mm seeds.

Reproduction and dispersal 

Pollinated by Bumblebees. Millions of small dark seeds are produced from each plant which are carried by wind or water. Can be found growing naturally in many parts of Tasmania, particularly in damp and shady places.

Replacement species 
Delphinium species and hybrids, Penstemon hybrids and cultivars, Veronica formosa