Honoring and preserving our connection with nature

May 29, 2020

Flower Friday: Digitalis Thapsi

Explore Other Events

Nature Nights

An immersive outdoor holiday light and art exhibit

Find Out More


Flower Friday: Digitalis Thapsi

Have you noticed our latest botanical beauties? As we enjoy the spring sun and begin the transition into summer, here at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Gardens, our flowering plants are hard to ignore! We have been especially appreciating the bloom from our sun loving plants. For example, Digitalis Thapsi (AKA foxgloves) have been blooming in several patches throughout the garden. Digitalis Thapsi is a unique perennial plant originating from the Mediterranean. These distinct plants are known for their drooping lavender flowers that bloom in the late spring and summer and their light green, fuzzy lance-shaped leaves. You have probably seen them used as a color accent in a garden because their flower arrangement makes such a statement. Because digitalis thapsi are fire resistant, these plants are commonly used as borders and in rock gardens.

In addition to their stunning raspberry-rose color, these plants are excellent for wildlife. Hummingbirds love to lick the nectar of our foxgloves while the butterfly larvae happily munch on its green leaves. Meanwhile, foxgloves are deer and rabbit resistant, so these animals naturally avoid foxgloves.

 However, don’t let these gorgeous colors fool you! The leaves on Digitalis Thapsi are highly poisonous to humans. Although the plant is poisonous in nature, the chemicals on the Digitalis leaves are processed to create the prescription heart drug, digoxin. Digoxin is used to treat congestive heart failure because it relieves the associated fluid retention irregular heartbeat.

So, how did Digitalis Thapsi get its name? The Genus name comes from the Latin “digitus” meaning “finger.” A finger definitely represents that iconic flower shape. The name “foxglove” dates back to 1542 when German botanist Leonhard Fuchs first recorded the plant. Fuchs gave the plant his German family name, which translates to “fox.” As the name began to catch on, Old English folk myths began to circulate about Digitalis Thapsi. These myths described how foxes wore the flowers on their paws to silence their movements as they stealthily hunted their prey. Later in 1847, English scientist Henry Fox Talbot proposed the name “folks glove” from the term “folk” meaning fairy. Regardless of how it got its name, sun-loving Digitalis Thapsi are hard to forget, so head on down to SLO Botanical Gardens to check them out!

By Hannah Stein

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop