The Foxglove derives its common name from the shape of the flowers resembling the finger of a glove. The earliest known form of the word is the Anglo-Saxon foxes glofa (the glove of the fox). The northern legend is that bad faeries gave these blossoms to the fox so that he might put them on his toes to soften his tread when he prowled among the roosts. Its Norwegian name, Revbielde, which translates to "Foxbell," is the only foreign name that alludes to the Fox.
The mottlings, or speckles, on the blossoms were said to mark where the elves had placed their fingers, and one legend ran that the marks on the Foxglove were a warning sign of the baneful juices secreted by the plant, thus, in Ireland gain the plant is commonly called Dead Man's Thimbles.
Grown in the garden will protect the house and garden itself. In the past Welsh women used the Foxglove's leaves to prepare black ink to paint the crosses on the stones around the house to keep the evil away. It is said when the foxglove bows its head, it is the Faerie walking by.
The Foxglove is extremely poisonous if swallowed!
In Scotland, it forms the badge of the Farquharsons, as the Thistle does of the Stuarts. Its Latin adjective Digitalis derives from Digitabulum, which means "a thimble."
The Foxglove's leaves are good for cleansing for cold sores and ulcers; the leaves may be boiled and used as an expectorant.
In 1775, about 100 years after the last witch-hunt, 34-year-old William Withering was a doctor in Stafford, England, and a medical botanist. He heard rumors of an "old Shropshire woman" who could treat "dropsy," that term for the disease we now call congestive heart failure. He realized that the active ingredient was foxglove.
The drug derived from it, digitalis, has only recently been surpassed by other medications as a treatment for congestive heart failure.