Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Photo: (c) Cowirrie

Family:  Plantaginaceae

Photo: (c) Andrew Hill

Growth Habit: Foxglove is a hardy plant which can grow up to 2m in height. It usually produces a rosette of large, fuzzy, grey-green leaves in the first year and flowers in the second.

Type of Plant: A biennial erect herb with a single flower stalk up to more than 1 m high.

Photo: (c) Mike Coates

Flowers: The flowers are a tubular bell shaped which cluster at the top of the stem. Foxglove flowers come in a variety of mottled colours including white, yellow, purple or pink. These usually hang to one side of the spike. Flowering occurs over a long period from spring to autumn.

Fruit/Seed: Millions of small dark, highly viable seeds are produced from each plant.

Dispersal: Foxglove reproduces from seed and wind or water can transport these. Also spread by dumped garden waste. Bumblebees have increased their pollination and spread.

Distribution: A garden escape which can be found growing naturally in many parts of Tasmania, particularly in damp and shady places.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Foxglove is extremely poisonous. All plant parts must be handled with extreme care.
  • Foxglove is able to rapidly spread and totally exclude native flora and fauna.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Wear gloves, as the entire plant is poisonous.
  • Grow alternatives in your garden and elsewhere. For example: Speedwell (Veronica formosa), Penstemon (Penstemom hybrids and cultivars) and Delphinium (Delphinium species and hybrids).
  • Hand pulling is possibly if plants are just starting to appear. If any flowers seeds are present, cut the tops off first and bag them for removal or burning before pulling plant.
  • Grubbing (summer, spring and autumn). Hoe in young plants and remove older plants. Collect and dispose of flowers and seeds before grubbing out plants.
  • Mulch can be effective in smothering emerging seedlings.
  • Foliar spray (summer, spring and autumn). Glyphosate is registered in Tasmania for Foxglove use. Do not use herbicide when plant is under stress as it will not be effective.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.