Foxglove is an unmistakeable and stately biennial or short lived perennial with a basal rosette of soft, downy and wrinkled leaves and a tall, un-branched spike of bright pinkish purple (or sometimes white) flowers.
This winter-green, rosette forming perennial specialises in exploiting disturbed acidic soils in lightly shaded situations. Although most commonly associated with coppiced or open woodland it is equally at home on river banks, rocky slopes, sea-cliffs (see main photograph), walls and waste land. On these disturbed sites, taller more dominant species usually take over within a few years. Foxglove copes by producing copious quantities of seed (more than 70000 seeds per plant) which can remain viable in the soil for many years. This seed requires light in order to germinate and so remains dormant until there is another episode of disturbance and conditions are right for the next generation of plants to become established.
Foxglove flowers are particularly attractive to bumble bees as a source of pollen and nectar and as an overnight roosting site.
Easily grown from seed sown at any time of the year. Foxglove is a component of our EW1 woodland mix but would also work in EH1 or EM10, although occasional soil disturbance would be required if the species is not to be lost from the site.