Foxglove: The Beautiful Bloom That’s Bad For Your Heart

Take a stroll through any well-tended garden and it’s likely you’ll see scores of bell-shaped flowers known as foxgloves. Typically purple, these enchanting blooms can show up in other colors, like white, pink and yellow. However, their beauty masks a sinister truth — they’re poisonous. The name of this dastardly but lovely plant comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “foxes flofa” — meaning the glove of the fox — because they are thought to resemble the fingers of a glove. Ingesting foxgloves can be fatal, particularly if it’s done just before the seeds ripen, when the plant is most toxic. The plant’s inherent chemicals — known as cardiac glycosides — make the heart pump harder. This can spell big trouble for people whose hearts pump at a good rate already. A dose of foxglove acts like taking a dose of heart medication and can make the heart slow down or become dangerously irregular. Symptoms of foxglove poisoning include dizziness, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and hallucinations. The good news is that few people of sound mind and body are likely to start munching on foxgloves out in the wild. In fact, it tastes so bad that you wouldn’t swallow the leaves anyway. It should be noted that foxglove is not dangerous to people or animals to touch. Still, if foxgloves grow in your garden, make sure to keep an eye on young children and pets.