Return to the Organic Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

the toxicity of foxglove

Posted by west9491 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 14, 08 at 4:29

i read in selectseeds catalog that foxglove are poisonous....i also read on the net it was only the flower that was.
how concerned should a parent of a 2.5 yr old an d 7 month old, and owner of dogs be?

and why doesn't is list them as poisonous and the seed packet bought from walmart, you'd think they'd make em print that on there?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Foxgloves are one of the memebers of the "Digitalis" family, part of a larger family of plants, from which a drug that can strengthen the heart beat is derived. Because of that some sellers will label their seeds while others do not find it necesary. As with anything that could, potentially, be poisonous it is the does, you would need to eat a lot of Foxgloves to begin to see the effects and it is the plants leaves, not the flowers or seeds, that contain the alkaloid that would become the drug.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

I have to disagree with kimmsr. Foxglove is considered highly poisonous. According to what I have read, one leaf chewed and swallowed, could cause paralysis and/or heart stoppage. I would not grow it where a child could get to it. Do a Web search on foxglove. I agree with you that seed packets should have information about poisonous plants.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 14, 08 at 16:45

I couldn't agree more that some plants need warning labels, so many parents of young kids have no knowledge of the dangers of what's growing in their yard. You would never, ever want infants eating foxglove anf you should call poison control if they do. I don't know about dogs, their list of poisons is slightly different than ours.
Here's my list for my yard, ranging from mildly toxic to a stomach-pumping 911 call:
datura/Angel's trumpet
Potato vine/solanum
Japanese anemone
Calla lily
Night blooming jessamine
various lupines

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Foxglove is a highly toxic plant, but the point is not to not plant things that are toxic. Tomato leaves are toxic, and so are green potatoes, and so are yews, which are commonly planted around foundations. The world cannot be child-proofed. The thing is to teach the child not to eat anything it can't positively identify. Dogs have to be controlled and not allowed to eat whatever they want.

There is no law that requires that a plant or seed be labeled as poisonous. Many of the most popular plants are extremely so.

Here is an excellent site about plant toxicity:

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

crankyoldman (love that name!!) has got it right. If they were to label ALL the plants that pose toxicity, most folks would be terrified and not plant anything, as far more plants are toxic to some degree than those that are not.......even very common ones, like the aforementioned tomato (and potato and rhubarb foliage and whole bunch more).

One does need to exercise some caution but they also need to exercise some common sense. Avoid planting things that produce toxic berries or fruit - these are far more appealing to small children (who automatically assume they are as edible as the berries and fruit mom gives 'em) than munching on a flower or leaf. One can start training kids at a very early age not to put things in their mouth that have not been approved by a parent. Animals are a bit easier as they tend to inately know better and seldom graze on toxic plants, but puppies and other small pets that tend to chew should be kept supervised until they outgrow this trait.

Scores and scores of gardeners for generations have grown potentially toxic plants with both kids and pets around with no harmful incidents whatsoever (myself included). Actual accidental poisonings by plants for both kids and pets are much lower than many would imagine, but if you have concerns, use caution in your plant selection. But avoiding all plants that have toxic properties will result in a very boring garden :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: UCDavis toxic plants listing

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

good points, i just didn't know whether if was poisonous to eat or touch and have it on your hands, i'm not worried about my kid eatn the plant though, and i've already started workn on trainn my dogs to not chew on plants, since they already chewed two small plants down this winter, grr.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Here is what the NIH says: [If the government says it then it must be true. JBTG]

Foxglove poisoning usually occurs from sucking the flowers or eating the seeds, stems, or leaves of the foxglove plant.

Poisoning may also result from taking excessive amounts of medicines made from foxglove, including digoxin, a common heart medication.

Poisonous Ingredient

* Deslanoside
* Digitoxin
* Digoxin
* Digitalis glycosides

Where Found

* Flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the foxglove plant
* Digitalis glycosides (heart medicine)

Possible symptoms include:

* Blurred vision
* Halos around objects (yellow, green, white)
* Rash or hives
* Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
* Stomach pain
* Loss of appetite
* Irregular or slow heartbeat
* Low blood pressure
* Weakness or drowsiness
* Confusion
* Fainting
* Lethargy
* Disorientation or hallucinations
* Headache
* Depression

Hallucinations, loss of appetite, and halos are usually only seen in people who have been poisoned over a long period of time.

RE: toxicity of foxglove

Old adage that more should remember on these forums:

"Sola dosis facit venenum" (It is only the dose that makes the poison.)

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

I have foxglove all over the property. My dog is 11; my cats are 15, 7 and 3.

Ireland is Covered with Foxglove and it's also Covered with dogs.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 08 at 1:39

I'm sorry, I just can't agree that parents shouldn't have access to information about plant toxicity when making purchases. I do agree that the world can't be childproofed, but you can't protect your kids if you don't know yourself and most people have very limited plant knowledge.
From the Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 2006

There are more than 700 species of poisonous plants in the United States. Plants are second only to medicines in causing serious poisoning in children under age five. There is no way to tell by looking at a plant if it is poisonous. Some plants, such as the yew shrub, are almost entirely toxic: needles, bark, seeds, and berries. In other plants, only certain parts are poisonous. The bulb of the hyacinth and daffodil are toxic, but the flowers are not; while the flowers of the jasmine plant are the poisonous part. Moreover, some plants are confusing because portions of them are eaten as food while other parts are poisonous. For example, the fleshy stem (tuber) of the potato plant is nutritious; however, its roots, sprouts, and vines are poisonous. The leaves of tomatoes are poisonous, while the fruit is not. Rhubarb stalks are good to eat, but the leaves are poisonous. Apricots, cherries, peaches, and apples all produce healthful fruit, but their seeds contain a form of cyanide that can kill a child if chewed in sufficient quantities. One hundred milligrams (mg) of moist, crushed apricot seeds can produce 217 mg of cyanide.

About 10 million cases of poisoning occur in the United States each year. In 80 percent of the cases, the victim is a child under the age of five. About 50 children die each year from poisonings.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

A person may be able to teach their own children not to mess with plants, but what about other children who may come to play in the yard?!

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

This is like the discussion on planting non native plant species. Should you or should you not plant those things that could, potentially, poison someone? Because a large number of the plants that we grow are potentially poisonous we would have a relatively bland garden if we did not include those that might, possibly, poison someone. How often has someone been poisoned by eating plants out of a garden? It is such a rare occurance that if it did happen you would hear about it.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

dicot im with you, i didn't know it was toxic until i stumbled on it. good info though. i didn't know all that about the toxicity of plants, and i guess when i stumbled on it i though t it was a much more serious matter.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 08 at 16:19

You are mis-stating my contention, Kimmsr. I don't say don't grow them. I say label them so the consumer has the knowledge to make his or her own choices. As my list shows, I grow a number of toxic plants, including about 15 foxgloves.

You ask, "How often has someone been poisoned by eating plants out of a garden?" Did you even read what I posted from Gale? 10 million cases/year, 80% are kids, plants are the second leading cause. That is a lot of children, even if it is not necessarily a large number of fatalities.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Apple seeds contain cyanide. Following your thinking, apples should be labeled as poisonous.

Most plant "poisonings" consist of a bout of diarrhea and vomiting. The primary cause of poisoning death in children, according to the CDC, is from eating cosmetics or household products.

You have to take the responsibility to educate yourself about dangers to your child and not expect others to do the homework for you. That means consulting knowledgeable sources, not seed packets or hangtags at nurseries, ya know?

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Cranky, are you married?? I think I'm in love :-)) You have just about the best, most common sense attitude to this issue I've encountered. You go, guy!!

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

Lol, thanks, gardengal. I'm married to my job.:)

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

I am a former sales rep for a well known seed company that supplies many major chain stores including Walmart. I thought it was very funny that Walmart (in Canada) would not allow morning glories on thier seed racks as the seeds, if ingested can be hallucinogenic. However, they seemed to have no problem stocking digitalis (foxgloves) or Castor Bean which can kill you.
Have you ever tried to eat a foxglove flower? If a kid did put one in their mouth it wouldn't stay there long enough to do any damage. Foxgloves are extreamly nasty tasting (caustic). They are also beautiful and native to most of the coast of BC where I live.
I'm also of the belief that you should teach your children not to eat things they find outside the kitchen without asking first.
I am a field purchaser of wild mushrooms and my just turned 3 year old daughter can tell you the names of a dozen different mushrooms that grow in our back 40 and can show you where they grow and which ones you can eat. She also knows you NEVER eat wild mushrooms unless they are cooked and what can happen if you do.
Little kids are like sponges, it never ceases to amaze me the way they absorb information and retain it.(especially swear words!!)

RE: seeds being labled as poisonous

I forgot to add...
Parents have limitless information about the potential hazards of any plant via the www, books, garden centre staff etc... All they have to do is look or ask. Just because it isn't printed on the lable doesn't mean it isn't out there. Perhaps people should research things they'd like to plant before making impulse purchases and expecting seed companies to babysit them.

RE: the toxicity of foxglove

  • Posted by jayk 8b (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 24, 08 at 20:02

Just to be clear, Digitalis purpurea, the showy and commonly seen foxglove on the west coast, is not native here. It was introduced from Europe.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Organic Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here