Erik Thorn measures his prize foxglove with a 10-foot long rod that has a yardstick attached on the end. The monster foxglove has reached over 11 feet (or 3.3 metres) when it stands straight up in the morning, he says. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay couple might have world’s tallest foxglove

Duo pleased with 11-foot Digitalus purpurea

It’s not uncommon for foxgloves to grow beyond the average height of about four to six feet.

But it is rare enough that even Ken Marr, the botany curator at the Royal B.C. Museum, called an 11-foot foxglove in the backyard of Miriam and Erik Thorn’s Oak Bay garden a flower “on steroids.”

As it stands, Erik has measured the foxglove, or Digitalis purpurea, in his backyard at over 11 feet in the morning, somewhere around 3.35 meters.

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“The time to measure it is early, when it stands straight up,” said Erik, from his back garden on St. Patrick Street. “By 10 a.m. it leans over to follow the sun.”

Of course, the flower is still growing and could end up over 12 feet, Erik noted. It was when the Thorns’ son visited recently, and Googled the Digitalus purpurea, that they realized how rare a specimen they might have in their own garden. Two to three metre high foxgloves are heard of, but the tallest foxglove in the Guinness Book of World Records is 10 feet, 10 inches (about 3.3 metres).

“We’ve had this garden since 1965. We’ve never had a foxglove like this,” Miriam said.

Marr confirmed the specimen is Digitalus purpurea based on photos shared by Oak Bay News.

“I’ve not seen plants this tall myself, though two-plus metres wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.

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Digitalis purpurea is poisonous and can be highly dangerous though in the right doses, is used for heart medicine.

At this time, the Thorns have no interest in attempting to have the foxglove registered by the Guinness Book of World Records but they are proud of the flower that they planted from seeds.

“We love having foxgloves and hollyhocks about our garden, they are lovely,” Miriam said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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Erik Thorn measures his prize foxglove with a 10-foot long rod that has a yardstick attached on the end. The monster foxglove has reached over 11 feet (or 3.3 metres) when it stands straight up in the morning, he says. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

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