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Common Name: Grecian Foxglove
Digitalis lanata is a Evergreen Biennial/Perennial up to 0.60 metres tall.
It has medicinal uses.
All parts of the plant are poisonous[
Woods and scrub[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil, especially if it is rich in organic matter[
]. It prefers a neutral to acid soil[
] and also succeeds in dry soils and, once established, is drought tolerant[
]. It prefers semi-shade but succeeds in full sun if the soil is moist[
The Grecian foxglove is cultivated for the medicinally active glycosides that are contained in the leaves[
]. This species is preferred over D. purpurea as a source of glycosides for the pharmaceutical industry[
Plants are either biennial or short-lived perennials[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[
This species can develop crown rot and root rot when growing in damp conditions[
The Grecian foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine as the main source of the cardiac glycosides that are used in the treatment of heart complaints[
]. It has a profound tonic effect upon a diseased heart, enabling the heart to beat more slowly, powerfully and regularly without requiring more oxygen[
]. At the same time it stimulates the flow of urine which lowers the volume of the blood and lessens the load on the heart[
]. The plant contains cardiac glycosides (including digoxin, digitoxin and lanatosides). Digitoxin rapidly strengthens the heartbeat but is excreted very slowly. Digoxin is therefore preferred as a long-term medication[
The leaves are cardiac, diuretic, stimulant and tonic[
]. The leaves should only be harvested from plants in their second year of growth, picked when the flowering spike has grown and about two thirds of the flowers have opened[
]. Harvested at other times, there is less of the medically active alkaloid present[
]. The seed has also been used in the past[
]. The leaves also have a very beneficial effect on the kidneys, they are strongly diuretic and are used with benefit in the treatment of dropsy[
]. Great care should be exercised in the use of this plant, the therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose[
]. Their use should always be supervised by a qualified practitioner since in excess they cause nausea, vomiting, slow pulse, visual disturbance, anorexia and fainting[
]. See also the notes above on toxicity.
A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves[
]. It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders[
Seed - surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 20°c[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.