The foxglove has a few Welsh names; Bys Coch-literally the red finger! Bysedd y cŵn-the dogs fingers! Ffion or Maneg Ellyllon-the good people’s glove. Digitalis purpurea is its Latin name where digitalis means ‘finger-like’. Its English name was first recorded in 1542 by Leonhard Fuchs-Fuchs is the German word for fox! Other names for this statuesque wild flower include goblin gloves, witches’ gloves and dead men’s bells, underlying the deadly nature of this plant. They contain a chemical called digitalis that can be used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure but beware it is poisonous so do not consume! It can result in nausea, headaches and diarrhoea.
Bys Coch-Fox Glove, original artwork by Christine Moore
This is an original 20cm x 20cm watercolour and pen on khadi paper, mounted using cream mounting board .It is varnished using Golden gloss archival varnish. Price includes postage.
The foxglove was sacred to the Roman goddess Flora, who touched Hera on her breasts and belly with foxglove, Hera went on to conceive the god, Mars. The plant has been associated with midwifery and witchcraft ever since.
Y Tylwyth Teg – are the fair folk, the ellyllon (singular ellyll) are the goblins who inhabit groves and valleys and wear digitalis flowers as gloves.
“Yr ydoedd ym mhob gobant
Ellyllon mingeimion gant“Dafydd ap Gwilym 1340
“There was in every hollow A hundred wrymouthed elves.”
“Welsh legend explains why foxgloves bend and sway so gracefully. It has nothing to do with the wind, but that as the flower is sacred to the fairies, it has the power of recognising them, and indeed all spiritual beings who pass by, and that it bows in deference to them as they waft along.”
This majestic pink/purple biennial plant can grow to 2m in height and flowers throughout June and July, you will find them dotted around on moorland, hedgerows, woodlands and waste ground across Wales. Their distinctive, tube-shaped flowers are arranged around the stem from a basal rosette of leaves. The distinctive flowers with their speckled throats invite bumblebees, moths and Honeybees to feed on their rich nectar!
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