Digitalis purpurea is an herbaceous biennial or short lived perennial plant. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 10-35 cm long and 5-12 cm broad, and are covered with gray-white pubescent and glandular hairs. The foliage forms a tight rosette at ground level in the first year. The flowering stem develops in the second year, typically 1 to 2 m tall, sometimes longer. The flowers are arranged in a showy, terminal, elongated cluster, and each flower is tubular and pendent. The flowers are typically purple but some plants, especially those under cultivation, may be pink, rose, yellow, or white. The corolla is spotted inside the bottom of the tube. The flowering period is early summer, sometimes with additional flower stems developing later in the season. The fruit is a capsule which splits open at maturity to release the numerous tiny (0.1-0.2 mm) seeds.
Native to most of Europe.
Due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are all poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if eaten.