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Complete information about Digitalis plant

MedicinalCrops November 9, 2015

Cultivation of Digitalis plant: Complete guide on Digitalis plant farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.

Scientific name of Digitalis (Digitalis lanata Ehrh.) Scrophulariaceae:

Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials commonly called foxgloves.

This genus was traditionally placed in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae, but recent phylogenetic research has placed it in the much enlarged family Plantaginaceae. This genus is native to western and southwestern Europe, western and central Asia, Australasia and northwestern Africa. The scientific name means “finger-like” and refers to the ease with which a flower of Digitalis purpurea can be fitted over a human fingertip. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in colour with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow. The best-known species is the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. This biennial plant is often grown as an ornamental plant due to its vivid flowers which range in colour from various purple tints through various shades of light gray, and to purely white. The flowers can also possess various marks and spottings.

The first year of growth of the common foxglove produces only the stem with its long, basal leaves. During the second year of the plant’s life, a long, leafy stem from 50 to 255 centimeters tall grows atop the roots of healthy plants. The larvae of the moth the “foxglove pug” consume the flowers of the common foxglove for food. Other species of Lepidoptera eat the leaves, including the lesser yellow underwing.


Digitalis Leaves, Flowers & Fruits

The term digitalis is also used for drug preparations that contain cardiac glycosides, particularly one called digoxin, extracted from various plants of this genus.

A group of medicines extracted from foxglove plants are called digitalin. The use of D. purpurea extract containing cardiac glycosides for the treatment of heart conditions was first described in the English-speaking medical literature by William Withering, in 1785, which is considered the beginning of modern therapeutics. It is used to increase cardiac contractility (it is a positive inotrope) and as an antiarrhythmic agent to control the heart rate, particularly in the irregular (and often fast) atrial fibrillation. Digitalis is hence often prescribed for patients in atrial fibrillation, especially if they have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend digoxin for symptomatic chronic heart failure for patients with reduced systolic function, preservation of systolic function, and/or rate control for atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response.

Strain E.C. 115996 is reported to have higher foliage yield with high glycoside content

Soil and climate:
A well drained sandy soil rich in organic matter and slightly acidic (pH 5.5 – 6.5) in reaction is suitable. It requires a cool and mild climate (20 – 30°C) and comes up well in hill slopes at elevation of above 1250m Mean Sea Level.

Planting season:
Planting spreads from May – June for direct sowing and February for nursery sowing.

Seeds and Sowing:
It can be propagated by seeds.


Digitalis Seeds & Sowing the Digitalis Seeds

Seed rate:
The optimum seed rate is 8 kg/ha for direct sowing and 2 kg/ha for transplanting.

It can be planted at a spacing of 45 x 30 cm.

Apply FYM 10t/ha and NPK 20:30:30 kg/ha respectively as basal dose. Again N 150 kg/ha is applied as top dressing in 4 equal splits at 3 months interval.

Give 1 – 2 weedings in the initial stages.

Plant protection:
Leaf spot and leaf blight:
It can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb 2g/l.

Leaf spot in Digitalis

Harvesting extends upto 2 years. 8 – 10 cm long leaves (excluding petiole) are collected between July and August from the first year crop and second harvest taken one and half months later. Dry the leaves by passing hot air at 60°C.  About 2 – 3 harvests can be done during the first year and 2 harvests during the second year.


Harvested Digitalis Purpurea Leaves & Harvesting digitalis seeds

About 2000 – 3000 kg of dried leaves/ha can be obtained. The active principle in dried leaves ranges about 0.44 to 0.71 per cent.

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