Have you ever wondered what sort of toxin coated the poisoned arrow tips in ancient warfare?
It was a deadly toxin derived from the beautiful foxglove plants which are favourites in many of our gardens today.
Every section of this sweet plant is poisonous.
Foxgloves are named for their unusual tubular flowers which resemble gloves. The charming little ‘gloves’ grow on tall handsome spires.
They are a biennial and prefer a rich well-draining soil. They happily self-seed but will only flower in their second year.
Botanically, foxgloves belong to the Digitalis genus.
The term digitalis is also used for the modern day drugs known as cardiac glycosides, which were developed from the toxic component of foxgloves.
These drugs increase the contraction of the heart, and therefore increase cardiac output. Cardiac glycosides treat congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. The most well-known example is the commonly used drug, Digoxin.
So our pretty garden foxgloves have been both a menace and saviour to mankind.
Here are some photos of foxgloves growing in my garden.