Attitudes to foxes: Foxes and names

A close up of a foxglove
Many flowers derive their names from the fox, as this foxglove; © J. Memmott

The fox has lent its name to many dozens of plants. The reasons for this can be simple: foxtail lilies, foxtail palm and some foxtail sedges all resemble a fox's tail. Other plants have local names linked to foxes; the early purple orchid is known as fox stones, as the tubers resemble fox testicles, whilst red valerian is known as fox's brush in parts of south-west England. The most obvious fox-plant link is the foxglove. This name stems from the belief that foxes wore the flowers as gloves on their paws.

Foxes have also lent their name to many different species of animal. Some, such as the flying foxes (bats), fox squirrels and fox sparrows, have some physical or colour resemblance to foxes. The fox snake is so-called because its odour is similar to that of a fox.


  • Wallen, M. (2006) Fox. Reaktion Books, London.