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  • The bees visit the flowers in order to drink the nectar which is situated at the end of the tunnel shaped flower. In order to mark out the route to the nectar source the foxglove uses spots. These spots are known as nectar guides.   They  may also help the bee to find the landing stage. Note the tunnel shape of the flower and that the bumble bee has to push its way through this tunnel in order to get to the nectar which is situated at the base of the flower. The sides of the flower turn outwards helping to guide the insect into the flower.
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  • Close up of the mouth of the flower. Note the shape, the landing area, the guard hairs, spots and colouring as well as the downward attitude of the flower.
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  • A section cut through the flower to show the male and female reproductive parts, the anthers and stigma. Note how they are flattened into the roof of the flower. It is therefore impossible for the bumble bee to get to the nectar without brushing against the reproductive parts. In this way pollen from the male anthers is transfered to the female stigma. The spots leading to the nectar can also be clearly seen.

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  • Once a pollen grain has been transferred to the stigma, a pollen tube will then germinate from it and grow down through the style. When it reaches an ovule inside the ovary, fertilisation will then take place. The petals are no longer required and they fall off exposing the ovary. As the seeds mature the ovary swells. The ovary eventually dries up and opens allowing the small seeds to be dispersed by the wind. The height of the plant also aids the spread of seeds. Note the green immature ovaries with the protruding style which are visible in the lower part of the picture.
  • Foxgloves are highly successful at dispersing their seed and rapidly colonise areas where the land has recently been cleared. For this reason they are known as pioneer species.
  • Foxgloves have medicinal properties in that they contain digitoxin which is used to stimulate the heart. For this reason it should not be eaten and is considered poisonous.
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  • Finally, the foxglove is the logo of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This 103 square mile area includes the East Devon Heritage Coast. The 40 mile East Devon Way runs through the rich and varied countryside of the AONB. It links footpaths, bridleways and stetches of country lanes to create an inland route from the west of the District right the way through to the Dorset border in the east. Linking in to the East Devon Way are four circular or Local Walks, which allow walkers to explore further, distinctive areas of East Devon. A beautifully illustrated guide is available. Contact the East Devon District Council.
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