Cardiac glycosides and aglycones
Many species of plants contain toxic (specifically, heart-arresting) steroids of the cardanolide type as glycosides (compounds that contain structural groups derived from sugars) of up to four sugar residues, which may include glucose, rhamnose, and 10 other sugars characteristic of this group of natural products. Typically, these compounds (Table 46) are 5-steroids and have 3- and 14-hydroxyl groups, but hydroxyl groups may occur in many other positions. In all cases, the aglycone (the steroid that results when the sugar groups are removed) is less active than its glycosides, but generally activity declines with increasing numbers of sugar residues after the first. The structures of the sugars have important but not predictable effects on activity.
The most important cardiac glycosides, medicinally, are those occurring in foxglove (Digitalis): digitoxin, gitoxin, and digoxin. Each of these contains a specific aglycone (e.g., digitoxigenin  is the aglycone of digitoxin) linked to three molecules of the sugar digitoxose and is derived from a more complex glycoside (digilanides A, B, and C, respectively) from which glucose and acetic acid are removed during the isolation procedures.
The squill, or sea onion, Scilla maritima, a seashore plant, contains several toxic glycosides, the aglycones of which are bufadienolides more typical of the toad poisons than of plant products. (In a bufadienolide, two double bonds are present in the bufanolide side chain.)