foxglove flowers
Photo: H. Zell
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Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Why we grow it: With purple, pink, and white bell-shaped blossoms growing in tall, tower—ing spires, it adds drama and height to your garden.

Deadly parts: The entire plant, especially the leaves of the upper stem, which are rich in digitalin, digitoxin, and digitonin—chemicals, that while used medicinally, are deadly in high doses.

Toxic toll: The same thing that makes these lookers toxic to deer won't sit well with your—or the family pet's—digestive tract. Twenty minutes after a little nibbling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea set in. Depending on the amount ingested, untreated poisoning leads to death by bradycardia (lowered heart rate) or ventricular fibrillation (a rapid, irregular rhythm in the lower heart chambers). Keep in mind, however, that children have died just from sucking on a part of the plant.
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