Foxglove Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Foxglove Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Are you thinking of getting a foxglove tattoo, but first want to know more about it’s meaning and symbolization? Or perhaps you already know this and you’re simply looking for some design ideas?

Although the foxglove tattoo is not the most popular choice, it carries great representations and makes for a beautiful addition to your body. The blossom has many powerful associations such as pride, ambition, and confidence. Nonetheless, there are some negative meanings that are worth being aware of.

This article will go into further detail about the symbolism of foxgloves, both the negative and the positive. As well as this, you can find information about the history of the flower that could relate to people’s personal associations with their own foxglove tattoos. 

What Is the History of Foxglove Tattoos?

Foxglove tattoos have little history and aren’t a common tattoo choice, however, the foxglove flower itself has ties to healing, folklore, and art. With such variety, it’s possible, but not guaranteed, that for certain people foxglove tattoos have meaningful links to the actual flower’s history.


– Folklore

The flower has long been associated with fairies and little folk, whether it’s due to the finger-like size of the blossoms, or that the ground foxgloves thrive in was thought to be fairy territory. 

Some people believed that the spots on the blossoms were fingertip prints from the fairies, whilst other legends tell of the dewdrops found on foxgloves being collected and used to communicate with the fairies. 

There are tales of foxes wearing the flower’s blossoms as gloves, and using them to silently sneak into chicken coops or people’s homes to feast. In Scandinavia, the story goes that fairies taught foxes to ring the blossoms like bells to warn each other of encroaching hunters. 

– Roman Myth

Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and season of spring, touched Hera, the wife of Zeus, (or Juno under her Roman name), on her breast with a foxglove. Flora’s touch caused Hera to become pregnant with the god of mars, Vulcan. 


– Medicine

Chemicals found in foxgloves are used to create a medicine called digoxin. It was first described in the late 18th century to treat edema. Foxglove is commonly used for heart-related illnesses such as contractions, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and fluid buildup. 

– Van Gogh

It is thought the artist Vincent Van Gogh experienced his ‘yellow period’ due to ingesting foxgloves, after he was said to have used digitalis to treat his epilepsy. Digoxin is one of the oldest medications in the world, however, one side effect is colour impairment, giving patients a yellow haze across their vision. 

To further support this theory, the foxglove is actually featured in two of Van Gogh’s portraits. Both of which were of his doctor, Paul Gachet, holding the flower in his hand. 


– Witchcraft

All parts of the plant contain a potentially fatal substance called a cardiac glycoside. Periodic wise women used foxgloves as a remedy, which in turn caused them to suffer several mediaeval panic attacks. The women were persecuted for witchcraft and sometimes hung for it. 

What Do Foxgloves Symbolise?

Over the decades, foxgloves have held many symbolic meanings, some positive and some negative. Foxgloves are associated with the ability to evoke an energy that can both hurt and heal. This symbolization seems a bit cryptic, and is rather unusual for a flower’s meaning.

Due to its toxicity, the flower does have an unfortunate relation to sickness and death. However, the most well-known negative association is insincerity – a slightly milder relation.

With this being said, the positive meanings of foxgloves do greatly outway the bad. Foxgloves also symbolise pride, creativity, magic, cooperation, ambition, confidence, energy, intuition, communication, and productivity. 

In the Victorian language of flowers, giving the foxglove as a gift to someone carried the symbolic meaning of ‘I am ambitious for you, rather than for myself’. 


What Do Foxglove Tattoos Mean?

More often than not, the foxglove tattoo is chosen by women. In this case, it usually signifies accomplishment, as well as having confidence in this accomplishment. Whether it be work, a personal battle, illness, or a life goal – the foxglove can represent something you’re proud to have experienced. 

Folklore tales were told to children, about how you should never pick the flowers as it will make the fairies angry. The more likely reason is that the flowers are poisonous and parents wanted to keep their kids away, nonetheless, this has given the tattoo relations to childhood.

Foxglove tattoos represent the wealth of imagination that children possess. The stories or beliefs we learned as children stay with us into our adult lives, and are passed down to many future generations. Lastly, the foxglove can be used to represent innocence, like that of a child. 


Where Do Foxglove Tattoos Usually Go?

Foxglove tattoos can go on any part of the body. Bear in mind that if you are planning to tattoo a stem of foxgloves, you’ll need an area that can account for the length (such as the arm or back). Nonetheless, there is no need for foxglove tattoos to be overly large. Smaller versions of the tattoo can look just as beautiful and fit more versatility. 


– Characteristics and Styles of Foxglove Tattoos

The most popular tattoo choice is likely a simple stem with foxglove flowers. The tattoo could either be colourful or black and white, with a varied amount of blossoms. However, there are also more intricate designs that work nicely. Some design ideas include;

  • A foxglove tattoo incorporated with the animal in the name, a fox. For example, a fox sniffing the foxglove flower, or a merge of the flower’s body with the foxes body.
  • To relate the foxglove to its medical history, you could tattoo a foxglove next to a traditional medicine grinder.
  • Foxgloves hanging off a quarter moon.
  • A design to represent the meaning of the flower in folklore, with the pocket of the flower housing a fairy.


Foxglove flowers have a vast array of history; a history that can now translate into the modern-day, afflicting some of the meanings behind the foxglove tattoo. Although a foxglove is not the most frequented tattoo design, it’s a versatile choice for both design and body positioning.


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