Grecian foxglove.
Grecian foxglove.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is asking for the public’s help to find and eliminate Grecian foxglove (Digitalis lanata), a highly toxic plant that is known to be growing in parts of Washington, Dakota, and Wabasha counties.

Grecian foxglove is not native to North America, having come from central and southern Europe. The weed is poisonous, and both fresh and dried plant parts are toxic. The greatest concern is the potentially lethal threat of human and livestock poisoning. The leafy portions of Grecian foxglove could be mistaken for lettuce or other leafy greens, and the plant has even been found growing in a homeowner’s vegetable garden.

The weed is a perennial plant and will come back year after year if it isn’t treated. It’s known to be growing in roadsides, residential yards, grasslands, and forest margins along the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Residents in those areas are encouraged to look for the weed and report any sighting to the MDA.

What does Grecian foxglove look like?

  • In its first year, the weed seedling looks like a green rosette with no flowers.
  • Mature plants are two to five feet tall with creamy white, tubular flowers with purplish lines.
  • Leaves are simple, alternate, oblong-shaped, and about six inches long with a pointed tip. What sets Grecian foxglove apart from common or garden foxglove is both the flowering stems and undersides of the Grecian foxglove leaves have woolly hairs.

What to do if you see Grecian foxglove:

  • Note the exact location.
  • If possible, take digital photos of the whole plant, rosettes, flowers and seed stalks that can be emailed for identification.
  • Contact the MDA by e-mail at arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or voicemail at 888-545-6684.

The MDA has teamed up with local and state partners to rid Minnesota of this toxic weed. Currently known infestations, and those reported to the MDA throughout the summer, will be treated by Conservation Corps Minnesota in the fall.

This work is funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources.