Foxgloves

Fairy Foxglove Common Foxglove Fairy Foxglove Common Foxglove

What are they?

There can be few people who do not recognise our native foxglove, a familiar sight both as a plant of the countryside and as a popular garden plant. These upright, stately plants are easy recognised in themselves, but it can be hard to see that they have a close relationship to such plants as toadflaxes, speedwells and plantains. But their close relationship is revealed by careful examination of their flower parts.

Where are they found?

Our native foxglove is commonly found throughout the region in woodland glades or open, heathy places, while the other species on this page are all rather rare, garden escapes.

Identification

The few species that we have are all rather different to each other and should be easily identified by their flowers and their leaves.



Common Foxglove      Digitalis purpurea

Native and introduced. Common throughout most of East Anglia, although rarer on chalky soils and in such places it is usually a garden escape. Flowers June to September. A biennial plant, in the first year forming a flat rosette of thickly downy leaves, up to 30cm in length. In the second year, plants push up a flower-bearing stem which may reach two metres or more in height. Flowers are tubular and usually heavily spotted on the inside; they may be white or pinkish-purple.

Common Foxglove Common Foxglove Common Foxglove Common Foxglove
Habit
Flowers
Leaf
Seed capsules


Straw Foxglove      Digitalis lutea

Introduced from Europe as a garden ornamental. Current county floras list just a single record from Suffolk in the 1990s, but the plant may occur as a non-persistent garden escape or throw-out from time to time. Flowers June to August. Spikes grow to around one metre in height. Pale, straw-coloured, tubular flowers have five, triangular-pointed lobes at the mouth. Leaves are hairless and much narrower than those of the native foxglove.

Straw Foxglove Straw Foxglove Straw Foxglove Straw Foxglove
Habit
Flowers
Flower
Leaf


Rusty Foxglove      Digitalis ferruginea

Introduced from Europe as a garden ornamental. Found along the Marriots Way near Norwich in 2017 where perhaps planted on a grassy bank, but not near any houses. Flowers June to August. Spikes grow to around one metre in height. Dull, brownish-yellow flowers have an enlarged lower lip which curves upwards in front of the mouth of the flower. Leaves are hairless and much narrower than those of the native foxglove.

Rusty Foxglove Rusty Foxglove Rusty Foxglove Rusty Foxglove
Flowers
Flower
Leaves
Seed capsules


Fairy Foxglove      Erinus alpinus

Introduced from Europe as a garden rock plant or 'alpine' and commonly grown in the region. Fairy Foxglove rarely escapes into the wider countryside, but it has long been established on old walls in Cawston, Norfolk and in Cambridge. Flowers May to August. Very unlike other foxgloves, this plant forms tight rosettes of small leaves and is most likely to be found growing from vertical wall surfaces.

Fairy Foxglove Fairy Foxglove Fairy Foxglove Fairy Foxglove
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Leaf