Digitalis ciliata, the ciliate foxglove or hairy foxglove, is a member of the genus Digitalis, which is well known both for its beautiful bell-shaped flowers and use of the chemicals found mainly in the leaves and the seeds for treatment of heart conditions and potential anti-proliferative use in cancer.
Digitalis ciliata is native to the Caucasus area. In these places, Digitalis ciliata can be found in meadows, pastures, on the edges of forests, and also on slopes, as it is indigenous to mountainous terrain. It can also be grown throughout the world, as long as there is warm enough weather and well drained yet moist soil. Because it can be grown under somewhat flexible conditions it is used ornamentally in both Europe and North America.
Individuals of these species are herbs that grow from anywhere between 30 cm and 60 cm tall. They have an alternate leaf pattern with small green lanceolate leaves that are known for both their medicinal purposes and high toxicity when ingested. The flowers are located at the terminals of the branches and are arranged in a raceme inflorescence pattern.
Flowers and fruit
The flowers of Digitalis ciliata are a distinguishing feature that gave the entire genus its name, as it has a campanulate structure that also resembles a thimble and fits on the tip of the finger. The perianth has five parts and the color of the corolla is a pale-yellow. The species name, ciliate, is indicative of the tiny “hairs” that are apparent on the upper and lower lips of the corolla. There are also tiny hairs that cover the leaves of the plant. The fruit is a capsule.
Digitalis ciliata is used to isolate cardenolide glycolosides and is abundant in basically all of the glycosides that the Digitalis genus is known for. These common glycosides include digitoxigenin, gitoxigenin, digoxigenin, gitaloxigenin, and diginatigenin.
The seeds of Digitalis ciliata are rich in the steroid glycoside Digitonin, along with other lipids that are important in cardiac treatments.
Not only is Digitalis ciliata useful in the cardiac sector of medicine, but its anti-proliferative roles are also being looked into for its possible role in suppressing tumors. There may be evidence that the saponins found in this species have an anti-tumor effect by aiding in cell cycle arrest and cell death, or apoptosis.
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