Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Help with Flower ID? (updated)

I posted these photos last night, trying to pinpoint what type of flower this was, and if it was wild or something that had escaped the garden before I bought the property.

We suspected it was related to foxglove in some way, but I hadn't been able to find photos matching the shape of these flowers.

Thanks to the wonderful Twitter community, we ID'd it within an hour of posting: Grecian, or Wooly, Foxglove (Digitalis lanata).

And, sadly, this striking plant is on the list of "bad" plants from the MNDNR. In fact, this is what the DNR site says about it:
"In Minnesota it has been found primarily in Washington County in the vicinity of the St. Croix River along sunny to semi-shaded road ditches. Native to Europe's scrub oak forests."

Hmmm... that's exactly where we live, with beautiful stands of oak all around.

The funny thing? I've only seen one or two of these around, and usually in yards, not in ditches. I've never seen stands of it, as it prone to do which then threatens the native savannah prairie that so many people have restored here in the beautiful town of Afton.

Of other interest, just like other foxglove members, all parts of the plant are toxic to people and animals (probably why I've never seen deer or rabbits browsing them). It's a biennial or short-lived perennial, forming a rosette of low wooly leaves the first year and then shooting up the large single flower stalk the second year. The flowers are hermaphroditic, containing both male and female parts. And, as I noted in my original post, bees love them.

It's listed as an invasive species in only a few states, including Kansas. It is actually a sought-after garden plant and cultivated in many states including states on the East Coast, Colorado and Utah.

Two other European species have also begun to naturalize in prairie areas: Digitalis purpurea (Purple Foxglove) and Digitalis lutea (Yellow Foxglove).

The Natural Resource Conservation Service has a photo on its site that doesn't look anything like the plant listed on other sites. I don't know if there are variations of the flowers and stalk, but I suspect the NRCS sheet needs updating. The MNDNR site has it listed as it appears in our yard and on other national sites.


  1. Not one I know... I'll tweet the link and maybe someone else will help!

  2. Since it is noxious, did you get rid of it?

    1. Sadly, yes. It's funny because I've rarely seen them in Afton and they're only in the yard every now and then - oh well. Had to be done!