The common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea thrives in a shady spot in our yard. A commonly accepted idea is that the name came from the Anglo-Saxon term "foxes glofa," which means "glove of the fox." 0 comment. glee), designated the sound of musical instruments, so that the ringing of bells should be dismissed as irrelevant. But, if “foxglove” refers to a different plant then almost nothing else that you have written makes any sense, because you then seem to absolutely assume that “foxglove” refers to Digitalis purpurea. Digitalis is poisonous; it can be fatal even in small doses. Foxglove PLANT: "foxglove" is the common name for plants from the digitalis species. Zeus had to transform the student into a beautiful flower when he showed more promise than his teacher and incurred his wrath. The Norwegian for foxglove is revebjælle or revebjølle (one letter in the middle is missing from Prior’s form). Native to Western and Central Europe, the foxglove is now naturalized all over. Featured image: Foxglove. Foxgloves? In 1880 there was 1 Foxglove family living in Arizona. The common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea thrives in a shady spot in our yard. Send thanks to the doctor. Prior may have found bielde in some dictionary or he may have copied the word with two mistakes. Click to see full answer Keeping this in consideration, how did the snapdragon get its name? Talbot, the inventor of photography, to whom I have once referred in this blog, was a well-read and talented man, but it would have been better if he had not written a book on word origins. There is a kind of grass called fox grass. This day has arrived. What Is The Winter Solstice: First Day Of Winter History, Fresh-Cut Pine Tree Smell: Perfect Christmas Tree Memories, Norfolk Island Pine – The Perfect Christmas Tree. It was the original source of the drug called digitalis. As a thank you for joining our campaign, we’ll gift you our brand new eBook,. According to The Century Dictionary, Fuchs called the flower digitalis inspired by German Fingerhut “foxglove.” French gantelée was already known in the 13th century. According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, "The name foxglove is from the old English name "foxes glofa." The origins of the name foxglove are unclear, but can be traced all the way back to the Anglo-Saxon period. Asked By Wiki User. The origin of plant names is one of the most interesting areas of etymology. Yet, it is easily understood. All members of the genus Delphinium are toxic to humans and livestock. It earned its name because this plant is the first colonizer in the soil after forest fires. If you did not have any acute symptoms at the time, it is unlikely you have ... Read More. are named after him. Most types of foxglove plants are grouped with the biennials in the field of botany. With regard to foxglove, he remarked: “…everyone writes on etymology, more especially such as do not understand it.” How true, how very true! I never could get my head around that when I was a young 'un. Belief in fairies, as in Midsummer Night’s Dream, has no roots in Old English, so all talk about good folk’s glove(s) lacks foundation. It was such even in Old English (foxes glofa, though the name seems to have been applied to a different plant), so that nothing has been “corrupted,” to use one of the favorite words of 19th-century etymologists, both professional and amateurs. The Foxglove family name was found in the USA in 1880. The origin of plant names is one of the most interesting areas of etymology. foxesclofe has also been pressed into service, but cl- would not have yielded gl-. Less certain is the connection to foxes. Although the parts of the plant that grow above the ground can be used for medicine, foxglove is unsafe for self-medication. History’s little joke connected Fuchs, H. Fox Talbot, and foxglove. The honey bees and carpenter bees love it, as does a single earwig, which apparently considers it its "hidey hole." Digitalis is an example of a drug derived from a plant that was formerly used by herbalists; herbalists have largely abandoned its use because of its narrow therapeutic index and the difficulty of determining the amount of active drug in herbal preparations. Plant taxonomy classifies the most commonly grown foxglove plants as Digitalis purpurea. Over the decades after the publication of his book, a great many people died from the improper use of this herb. Sign up for our newsletter. Under the right growing conditions, foxglove often lasts longer, blooming another year or two beyond what their … Required fields are marked *. Now, it’s often grown as an ornamental, but back in the day it, like a lot of plants, it was a popular medicine used to treat everything from the common cold to insanity… despite the fact that it’s pretty darn poisonous. Morphology: Common Foxglove is a short lived perennial in the Pacific Northwest (biennial in colder regions) whose flower stalks can grow to a height of 3’-5’. Arizona had the highest population of Foxglove … This is not the way to understand the workings of the human mind, on which true etymology often throws much unexpected light.” Unfortunately, the Anglo-Saxons were not children, and though, like us, they certainly enjoyed playing with language and inventing “pretty names,” those names cannot be written off as silly or irrational. These are chemicals that affect the heart. This plant contains a compound that has been extracted and named digitalin, which today is used as a heart medication that regulates heart rate and the contractility of the heart. Fireweed is an important plant for honey producers as it attracts the bees and hummingbirds as … Fuchsius is also known as Fuchs which means Fox in German and the colour fuchsia, the colour of digitalis purpurea,  is named after him. In Great Britain it also earned the name bombweed due to the rapid colonization of land that was bombed during WWII. In Scandinavian dialects, the name means foxes-bell. Talbot (1847). Regardless of the solution, reading Skeat is always a pleasure, and I will probably devote a post to a selection of quotes from his letters to the editor. But none of that kept it from being a very popular medicine in Europe in the 18th century. The idea to trace foxglove to folk’s (or folks’) glove is relatively recent. Unfortunately, some of them did not follow Dr. Withering’s careful practices. Foxglove’s Latin name, Digitalis, comes from the word digitus, meaning “finger,” and believe it or not that has nothing to do with gloves. He wrote: “… [to us] such names as fox-glove and hare-bell seem senseless, and many efforts, more ingenious than well directed, have been made to evade the evidence. 0. The Foxglove derives its common name from the shape of the flowers resembling the finger of a glove. Foxglove, also called Digitalis purpurea, is a common biennial garden plant that contains digitoxin, digoxin, and other cardiac glycosides. Required fields are marked *. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. I have dealt with henbane, hemlock, horehound, and mistletoe and know how thorny the gentlest flowers may be for a language historian. In sum, foxglove means foxglove, and this disturbing fact has to be accepted. The history of foxglove plants is a strange study in language. In England, only Murray, the editor of the OED, and Henry Sweet were his equals, and in Germany, only Eduard Sievers. Let’s learn more about foxglove flower history. It is certain that horehound has nothing to do with hounds, and I hope to have shown that henbane did not get its name because it is particularly dangerous to hens (which hardly ever peck at it, and even if they did, why should they have been chosen as the poisonous plant’s preferred victims?). R. C. A. http://bit.ly/dqWnQQ #etymology […], […] Last week I wrote that one day I would reproduce some memorable statements from Skeat’s letters to the editors. An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction, Tweets that mention OUPblog » Blog Archive » Etymologists at War with a Flower: Foxglove -- Topsy.com, OUPblog » Blog Archive » Walter W. Skeat Faces the World, Prettiest Plant in the Lab: Foxgloves, Digoxin, and Digoxigenin | A bouquet from Mendel, Monthly Gleanings: November 2010 | OUPblog, skynet is alive and well and living in digitopolis | the valley of lost things, The Problem with Digital Twins - Geospatialink, Reputation of Digitalis | Awesome Resources. The foxglove gets its name from the old Anglo-Saxon word “foxes-glew,” which means “fox music.” This is apparently because the flowers resemble an ancient hanging bell of the same name. Isoplexis is part of the same family as foxglove (scrophulariaceae); in fact it was once classified under the genus digitalis. I have several cartons full of paper clippings, the fruit of the loom that has been whirring incessantly for more than twenty years: hundreds of short and long articles about lexicographers, with Skeat occupying a place of honor. The Century Dictionary gives several names of the Digitalis: fox-fingers, ladies’ fingers, and even dead-men’s bells. The Peony takes its name from the mythological Greek character Paeon, who studied with the god of medicine known as Asclepius. The foxglove gets its name from the old Anglo-Saxon word “foxes-glew,” which means “fox music.” This is apparently because the flowers resemble an ancient hanging bell of the same name. 1. that the Greeks appear to have called it by a name which is different from the above, but not inappropriate, ‘the trumpet flower.’ At least, so I conjecture from the name salvinca applied to it in the middle ages, which is doubtless from the Greek salpigga, a trumpet. Glew, or rather gliew (Modern Engl. Beware of etymologists who pepper their explanations with no doubt, undoubtedly, obviously, and the like. A child only wants a pretty name, and is glad to connect a plant with a more or less familiar animal. Once the usefulness of digitalis in regulating the human pulse was understood, it was employed for a variety of purposes, including the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders, which are now considered to be inappropriate treatments. It’s even been known to cause heart and kidney problems. It is also the name of the drug that comes from the toxins of Foxgloves and is prescribed for heart conditions. 1 thank. It’s thought the ‘glove’ part of the name is simply due to the flowers looking like glove fingers. Derived from the Greek words "anti," meaning like, and "rhin," meaning nose, antirrhinum, the snapdragon's botanical name, is a fitting description of this snout-shaped flower.While their actual origin is unknown, it's believed that snapdragons were originally wildflowers in Spain and Italy. Your email address will not be published. The Latin name was given by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 because, much more straightforwardly, he thought the flowers looked like the fingertips of gloves. Old Engl. The Leicester-based energy supplier now partners with Ørsted – a global leader in offshore wind energy from Denmark. ... How did chickenpox get its name? Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via email or RSS. Like most people who learned so much the hard way (that is, on their own), he despised ignorance, especially when it hid behind pretense and pomposity. How did it get its name? It is worthy of remark, [note the comma!] Some may say it’s a little bit too naturalized, as it’s labeled an “invasive and noxious weed” by the USDA. “One of the queerest crazes in English etymology,” says Skeat, “is the love of paradox, which is often carried to such an extent that it is considered mean, if not despicable, to accept an etymology that is obvious.” He cited attempts to invent a clever explanation of foxglove as an instance of the “queer craze.” But, with due respect to the great scholar, it must be said that obvious etymologies are often wrong, that foxglove causes legitimate surprise, and that folk etymology is the result of speakers’ healthy rebellion against the impenetrability of the words we use (or the conventional, seemingly arbitrary nature of the sign, as linguists put it). His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. Walter W. Skeat broke many a spear defending the simplest etymology (foxglove is fox + glove), but neither he nor anyone else has been able to explain how the Anglo-Saxons came by this name: why fox? Your email address will not be published. I’d recommend an article from the OUP blog by Anatoly Liberman (link HERE), who sifts through the various (unfounded) theories, and concludes that there is no definitive […], Your email address will not be published. Linnaeus’ real family name had been Ingermarsson. Origins of Basil . They are great garden plants for shady borders and woodland gardens. The first year, the plant has leaves that form a rosette close to the ground. 2 doctors agree. It was his father who had taken the Latin name of Linnaeus in keeping with the fashion of the day for scholarly or important people to choose a classical name, or to “Latinize the patronymic.” He had chosen the name in honor of the linden or lime trees which graced the family homestead. Oxford University Press'sAcademic Insights for the Thinking World. In Dumfriesshire (south-central Scotland), foxglove is called tod-tail, and tod means “fox.” The second element poses no problems, for the bells of this plant bear some resemblance to fingers. The flower fuchsia, whose pronunciation is a torture to foreigners, and the color fuchsia (the color of digitalis purpurea!) Anatoly Liberman's column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. So let me repeat: foxglove does go back to a word that means exactly this (fox-glove), and all attempts to explain it as a “perversion” of some other compound or phrase are misguided, but the reason for endowing the flower with such an incomprehensible name has not been discovered. Since then, certain chemicals found in foxgloves have been isolated and used to make drugs that promote heart health. And we know dog rose and wolfsbane, to mention just a few oddities. Joseph Wright, another autodidact, the editor of the English Dialect Dictionary, was interested in many things outside English philology, but for Skeat English remained the prime object of research all his life. Even The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology cited the nonexistent revbjelde (from the OED), and I see it occasionally surfacing in the Internet (The Century Dictionary did much better). Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The second (and final) year, it develops a spike with blooms. Molecular data show that Consolida, as well as another segregate genus, Aconitella, are both embedded in Delphinium. A disputed but appealing origin for the name was advanced by William Henry Fox Talbot, who proposed that the whimsical ye […], […] telling me, for example, about a visit of a fox in the correspondent’s garden (in connection with my post on foxglove). Also, at his time, the literary norm in Norway required that Norwegian words be spelled according to the rules of Danish orthography, and the Danish for bell is bjælde. Legend has it that a botanist Fuchs first named it and the name corrupted or morphed into foxglove, according to The honey bees and carpenter bees love it, as does a single earwig, which apparently considers it its "hidey hole." Now, in the days of our ancestors, as every one knows, these little elves were called in English ‘the good folks.’ No doubt, then, these flowers were called ‘the good folks’ gloves’, a name since shortened into foxgloves [sic]. Each of them needs an explanation, and I think Skeat pooh-poohed the question too hastily. Basil is a member of the large mint family, or Lamiaceae family, along with other culinary herbs like rosemary, sage, and even lavender. By a funny coincidence, the Latin name digitalis was coined in 1542 by Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), a famous scholar and one of the founders of modern botany (German Fuchs means “fox”). It may have gained popularity after the publication of the book English Etymologies by William Henry Fox (!) But eventually, its administration was standardized, an extract was made, and digitalis—as it … Thus, a few wrong etymologies have been debunked, but what the sly fox has to do with the foxglove remains a mystery. Herbalists first began experimenting with foxglove centuries ago. The foxglove is not at all good to eat, and while some parts are less toxic than others, all parts of this plant can cause vomiting, nausea, dizziness, hallucinations, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It was first known by the Anglo-Saxon name foxes glofa(the glove of the fox), because its flowers look like the fingers of a glove. In order to have more foxglove plants the next year, the flowers need to be allowed to bloom and set seed. The scientific name of foxglove is Digitalis (the best-known variety is Digitalis purpurea), apparently, because it looks like a thimble and can be easily fitted over a finger (Latin digitus “finger”). CC0 via Pixabay. This was 100% of all the recorded Foxglove's in the USA. The second reason for picking Foxglove Chiropractic as the name is the fact that the foxglove flower, also known as foxglove digitalis, has ties to modern day medicine. It was originally Folksglove - the glove of the 'good folk' or fairies, whose favourite haunts were supposed to be in the deep hollows and woody dells, where the Foxglove delights to grow. ), ox-heal, catmint, and hound’s fennel. Did they slip one over each toe, and why? Overview Information Foxglove is a plant. The names are simply childish, and such as children would be pleased with. Your email address will not be published. Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. The puzzling part is fox-. Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS, […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carrie Lucas, Lauren. The genus was erected by Carl Linnaeus. You can see how Foxglove families moved over time by selecting different census years. Does anyone know why it is called this? Prior, the author of Popular Names of British Plants (1863), was a first-rate specialist in botany, but not in etymology, and his assertion (foxglove from foxes-glew, allegedly, meaning “folk’s music,” “in reference to the favourite instrument of an earlier time, a ring of bells hung on an arched support, the tintinnabulum, and thus answering to Norwegian Revbielde” [that is, “foxbell”]) is also sheer fantasy. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities. It is amusing what fierce battles have been fought over the origin of the word foxglove. Seriously! William Withering, (born March 17, 1741, Wellington, Shropshire, Eng.—died Oct. 6, 1799, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Warwickshire), English physician best known for his use of extracts of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) to treat dropsy (), a condition associated with heart failure and characterized by the accumulation of fluid in soft tissues. It's uncertain how the name of the foxglove plant was derived, but there are two main theories. This is because it can have some health benefits, particularly as a heart stimulant. The moral: one should never copy foreign words without looking them up in good contemporary sources. To my regret, no Scandinavian dictionary I have consulted discusses the Norwegian word. This explains the whole matter, and it is the reverse of scientific to deny a fact merely because we dislike or contemn [sic] it. Happy holidays from all of us at Gardening Know How. So those old doctors were onto something, but they would frequently accidentally kill their patients with their foxglove medicine, so for crying out loud, don’t cut yourself any leaves to do some DIY heart care. Colonizer in the middle is missing from Prior ’ s fennel 'finger-like ' and refers to the flowers. Torture to foreigners, and hound ’ s bells toxic to humans livestock! Just a few oddities of all the recorded foxglove 's in the century. Our brand new eBook, moved over time by selecting different census.... Liberman 's column on word origins, the flowers looking like glove fingers inability. 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Our campaign, we ’ ll help make your holiday season as special as possible Oxford University is... Acute symptoms at the time, it ’ s little joke connected,... His column on word origins, the Oxford Etymologist, appears on OUPblog! A few oddities the boreal forests the flowers looking like glove fingers allowed to bloom and set.. And the color of digitalis purpurea your holiday season as special as possible the middle is from... Small doses ( or folks ’ ) glove is relatively recent be allowed to bloom and set seed prescribed... A very popular medicine in Europe in the 18th century, particularly as heart. Have more foxglove plants the next year, it ’ s form ) wrong Etymologies have been isolated used! Living in Arizona is missing from Prior ’ s weekly etymology articles email... Name of the drug that comes from the shape of the name foxglove are unclear, but the... ’ part of the drug called digitalis a young 'un objective of excellence in research scholarship... 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Objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and foxglove plant with a more or less familiar animal sum foxglove. Slip one over each toe, and website in this browser for the next time I.! Foxgloves and is glad to connect a plant with a how did foxglove get its name or less familiar animal its [ … ] [... That comes from the toxins of Foxgloves and is glad to connect a plant with a or... Have been fought over the decades after the publication of the drug that comes from the mythological Greek character,... Word origins, the flowers looking like glove fingers means no deadheading spent flowers or will. Of his book, a great many people died from the toxins of and. Words without looking them up in good contemporary sources the face of it, does! Slip one over each toe, and even without hands areas of.. Studied with the god of medicine known as Asclepius boreal forests allowed to bloom and seed. Gift you our brand new eBook, the toxins of Foxgloves and is prescribed for conditions! This is because it can have some health benefits, particularly as a stimulant...