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Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
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Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Foxglove








The purple Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) which every one knows
and admires for its long graceful spikes of elegant bell-shaped
brilliant blossoms seen in our woods and hedges, is also called the
Thimble Flower, or the Finger Flower, from the resemblance of
these blossoms to a thimble or to the fingers of a glove. The word
digitalis refers likewise to the digits, or fingers of a gauntlet. In
France the title is Gants de Notre Dame, the gloves of our Lady
the Virgin. Some writers give Folks' Glove, or Fairies' Glove as the
proper English orthography, but this is wrong. Our name of the
plant comes really from the Anglo-Saxon, Foxesglew or Fox music,
in allusion to an ancient musical instrument composed of bells
which were hanging from an arched support, a tintinnabulum,
which this plant with its pendent bell-shaped flowers so exactly
represents.

In Ireland the Foxglove is known as the Great Herb, and Lusmore,
also the Fairy Cap; and in Wales it is the Goblin's Gloves; whilst in
the North of Scotland it is the Dead men's Bells. We read in the
Lady of the Lake there grew by Loch Katrine:--

Night shade and Foxglove side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride.

In Devonshire the plant is termed Poppy, because when one of the
bell-shaped flowers is inflated by the breath whilst the top edges are
held firmly together; the wind bag thus formed, if struck smartly
against the other hand, goes off with a sounding pop. The peasantry
also call it Flop a dock. Strangely enough, the Foxglove, so
handsome and striking in a landscape, is not [206] mentioned by
Shakespeare, or by either of the old English poets. The long
purples of Shakespeare refers to the orchis mascula.

Chemically, the Foxglove contains a dangerous, active, medicinal
principle digitalin, which acts powerfully on the heart, and on the
kidneys, but this should never be given in any preparation of the
plant except under medical guidance, and then only with much
caution. Parkinson speaks highly of the bruised herb, or of its
expressed juice, for scrofulous swellings when applied outwardly in
the form of an ointment. An officinal tincture is made from the
plants collected in the spring, when two years old; also, in some
villages the infusion is employed as a homely remedy to cure a cold,
the herb being known as Throttle Wort; but this is not a safe thing
to do, for medical experience shows that the watery infusion of
Foxglove acts much more powerfully than the spirituous tincture,
which is eight times stronger, and from this fact it may fairly be
inferred that the presence of alcohol, as in the tincture, directly
opposes the specific action of the plant. This herb bears further in
some districts the names Flop Top, Cow Flop, and Flabby
Dock. It was stated in the Times Telescope, 1822, the women
of the poorer class in Derbyshire used to indulge in copious
draughts of Foxglove tea, as a cheap means of obtaining the
pleasures of intoxication. This was found to produce a great
exhilaration of the spirits, with other singular effects on the
system. So true is the maxim, ubi virus, ibi virtus.

No animal will touch the plant, which is biennial, and will only
develop its active principle digitalin, when getting some sunshine,
but remains inert when grown altogether in the shade. Therefore its
source of production for medicinal purposes is very important.





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Previous: Flax (linseed)



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