31 Days. 31 Flowers. Teaching kids about Foxglove…
Literature, legends and art bloom with FLOWERS, from lovely little nursery rhymes to sophisticated epic poetry and great myths and masterpieces. Knowing the names of flowers, the references to flowers, the symbols of flowers, the language of flowers gives kids a blooming head start in understanding literature and enhancing literacy.
Each day in May, a FLOWER will be presented here at 31 Days. 31 Flowers – 31 Ways to engage your kids in literature, literacy and life in just a few moments a day. Enjoy!
The *FOXGLOVE – A whimsical, colorful, long stalk of bell-shaped flowers whose name derives from the Old English foxes glofa, meaning foxes gloves. The glove of bells may be pink, purple, yellow or white.
The fox reference is not clear, but glove refers to the shape and position of the flowers of the Foxglove plant. It’s easy to stick fingers into the flowers on the long stalk, like a glove… *BUT DON’T DO IT.
One story tells that foxes wore gloves when raiding the chicken coop to avoid being identified.
But there is another and more important legend, that the name Foxglove comes from the term folks’ gloves… the folk referring to fairy folk. This name-origin story is of great importance because the Foxglove is a *poisonous plant. To keep children away from the Foxglove, they are told that touching the Foxglove plant, sticking their fingers into the Foxglove glove or picking the Foxglove flowers will anger the fairy folk. This story is a critical one to tell children regarding the highly toxic Foxglove.
The *poisonous compounds of the roots, seeds, leaves, stalks and flowers of the Foxglove have given it the nicknames Dead Man’s Bells, Witches Gloves and Bloody Fingers. Even the lightest touch or tiniest nibble can be fatal.
The beauty of the Foxglove with its appealing glove-like flowers, combined with its *poisonous properties, has aptly associated the Foxglove with the symbol of insincerity. Don’t let the loveliness of the bell-shaped flowers draw you or your children into the Foxglove’s deception.
Another reason for the insincerity symbol of the Foxglove is its properties to both harm and heal. The scientific name of the Foxglove is **Digitalis, and medicinal uses to regulate heart rate are derived from the Foxglove plant. These medicines extracted from Foxglove plant are called Digitalin and must be left to the medical community to develop and dispense.
Let your kids in on the DANGER of the Foxglove. If you see one, talk about its name origin… but be sure to tell of the legend of the fairy folk who KEEP CHILDREN away from its poisonous touch.
Talk about the word insincerity… something not what it seems. Talk about the seeming welcome of the GLOVE-shape of the Foxglove flowers, but NEVER, EVER be tempted to touch it.
Great confidence in learning and reading comes from KNOWING interesting tidbits of information. In the case of the Foxglove, information can also save a life. Admire the Foxglove from afar, enjoying the legend of the protective fairy folk who are hidden in those lovely, yet insincere, gloves of bells.
(**Legend has it that Vincent van Gogh was treated with digitalis for his epilepsy. Art historians have theorized that he may have been poisoned by too much digitalis, causing xanthopsia – a form of chromatopsia, a visual abnormality in which objects look as though they have been overpainted with an unnatural color. In xanthopsia, that color is yellow. Interesting… )