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Foxgloves in bloom

It’s early July and the tall and elegant foxgloves are in bloom along hedgerows and wild places all over Mayo. Its bright purple, bell-like flowers make the foxglove one of the most imposing and opulent of all our native wildflowers and its medicinal properties are used to treat heart failure.

The foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) loves the acid soils of Mayo, particularly in the damp mountainous areas of the county where I took the above photograph on a sunny Friday morning on my way to Leenane.

A bloom of foxgloves near Delphi, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
A bloom of foxgloves near Delphi, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

This bloom of foxgloves near Delphi helped create a magical scene against a mountain backdrop in a wonderful evolving landscape of clouds.

Clouds drifting and rolling down the sides of Mweelrea, Ben Gorm and Ben Creggan began to wrap around the mountain peaks like a scarf.

In the clear blue sky above the sinking clouds, the July morning sunshine poured down on the rugged landscape illuminating all the vibrant summer colours.

Foxgloves, also known as fairy fingers and fairy bells, have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and in folklore, a drink made from the flower’s leaves was given to those thought to be under the spell of fairies.

Today, it has a practical use in helping those who suffer from heart failure (CHF).

Chemicals taken from foxglove are used to make a prescription drug called digoxin most commonly used in treating congestive heart failure (CHF) and relieving associated fluid retention and irregular heartbeat.

So the foxglove is much more than just a pretty flower.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.