Botanical: Digitalis purpurea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Scrophulariaceae
Synonyms---Witches’ Gloves. Dead Men’s Bells. Fairy’s Glove. Gloves of Our Lady. Bloody Fingers. Virgin’s Glove. Fairy Caps. Folk’s Glove. Fairy Thimbles.
Cultivation---The Foxglove is cultivated by a few growers in this country to provide a drug of uniform activity from a true type of Digitalis purpurea. It is absolutely necessary to have the true medicinal seeds to supply the drug market: crops must be obtained from carefully selected wild seed and all variations from the new type struck out.
Preparation for Market---The leaves alone are now used for the extraction of the drug, although formerly the seeds were also official.
No leaves are to be used for medicinal purposes that are not taken from the two year-old plants, picked when the bloom spike has run up and about two-thirds of the flowers are expanded, because at this time, before the ripening of the seeds, the leaves are in the most active state. They may be collected as long as they are in good condition: only green, perfect leaves being picked, all those that are insect-eaten or diseased, or tinged with purple or otherwise discoloured, must be discarded. Leaves from seedlings are valueless, and they must also not be collected in the spring, before the plant flowers, or in the autumn, when it has seeded, as the activity of the alkaloids is in each case too low.