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This article is about the genus Arnica. For the species, see Arnica montana.
Arnica montana - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-015.jpg
Arnica montana [1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Subtribe: Madiinae
Genus: Arnica

Arnica /ˈɑrnɨkə/ is a genus of perennial, herbaceous plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The genus name Arnica may be derived from the Greek arni, "lamb", in reference to the soft, hairy leaves.

This circumboreal and montane (subalpine) genus occurs mostly in the temperate regions of western North America, while two species are native to Eurasia (A. angustifolia and A. montana).[2][3]

Arnica used to be included in the tribe Senecioneae because it has a flower or pappus of fine bristles. This was soon questioned and Nordenstam (1977) placed it tentatively in tribe Heliantheae s.l.[citation needed] This arrangement also became uncertain because of the sesquiterpene lactone chemistry in certain species. Recently Arnica was placed in an unresolved clade together with Madiinae, Eupatorieae, Heliantheae s.s. and Pectidinae.[citation needed]

Several species, such as Arnica montana and A. chamissonis, contain helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone that is a major ingredient in anti-inflammatory preparations (used mostly for bruises).

Arnica species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix arnicella.

Arnica is also known by the names Mountain Tobacco and, somewhat confusingly, Leopard's bane and Wolfsbane—two names that it shares with the entirely unrelated genus Aconitum.


Frigid Arnica near a training radar site in the Alaskan Interior.

Arnica plants have a deep-rooted, erect stem that is usually unbranched. Their downy opposite leaves are borne towards the apex of the stem. The ovoid, leathery basal leaves are arranged in a rosette.[4]

They show large yellow or orange flowers, 6–8 cm wide with 10–15 cm long ray florets and numerous disc florets. The phyllaries (a bract under the flowerhead) has long spreading hairs. Each phyllary is associated with a ray floret. Species of Arnica, with an involucre (a circle of bracts arranged surrounding the flower head) arranged in two rows, have only their outer phyllaries associated with ray florets. The flowers have a slight aromatic smell. If taken in the wrong dose it can be very dangerous.[4]

The seedlike fruit has a pappus of plumose, white or pale tan bristles. The entire plant has a strong and distinct pine-sage odor when the leaves of mature plants are rubbed or bruised.[4]

Arnica montana[edit]

The species Arnica montana, native to Europe, has long been used medicinally, but this use has not been substantiated.[5][6]

Medicinal uses[edit]

Commercial Arnica preparations are frequently used by professional athletes.[7] According to The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, "A few clinical trials suggest benefits of topical arnica for osteoarthritis; and for affecting significant reduction of bruising compared to placebo or low concentration vitamin K ointments. However, a small study reported that topical arnica actually increased pain 24 hours after calf exercises." [8]

A study of wound-healing after surgery to treat varicose veins found no statistically significant proof of efficacy.[9]


Arnica montana contains the toxin helenalin, which can be poisonous if large amounts of the plant are eaten, and contact with the plant can also cause skin irritation.[10][11] If enough of the material is ingested, the toxin helenalin produces severe gastroenteritis, and internal bleeding of the digestive tract.[12] Homeopathic preparations of Arnica 24X dilution or more contain no active ingredient are therefore ineffective and non-toxic.[13][14][15]


Homeopathic preparations of Arnica are widely marketed and used. In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has registered the product for sprains and bruising under the National Rules for Homoeopathic Products (2006). These rules allow claims of efficacy for these conditions to be made on the packaging in the absence of similar evidence to that required for conventional medicines under the Medicines Act 1968 and 1971.[16] A systematic review of clinical trials showed that homeopathic Arnica was no more effective than a placebo.[17] In some quarters, the fact that homeopathic Arnica has been the subject of published clinical trials at all has drawn criticism grounded on the allegation that the basic premise of the high dilutions used in homeopathy would be inherently flawed.[15]


accepted species[2][18]
  1. Arnica acaulis —Common Leopardbane - eastern USA from AL to NJ
  2. Arnica angustifolia —Narrowleaf Arnica - Canada (BC to Que), USA (MT ID WY CO)
  3. Arnica attenuata - Alaska
  4. Arnica cernua —Serpentine Arnica - CA OR
  5. Arnica chamissonis —Chamisso Arnica - USA West of Rockies incl AK; Canada (BC to Que Yuk NWT)
  6. Arnica cordifolia —Heart-leaf Leopardbane, Heartleaf Arnica - USA West of Rockies plus AK + MI; Canada (BC to Que Yuk NWT)
  7. Arnica dealbata - California
  8. Arnica denudata
  9. Arnica discoidea Rayless Arnica - CA OR NV WA
  10. Arnica × diversifolia Churchmouse Threeawn, Rayless Arnica, Sticky Arnica - Oregon
  11. Arnica fulgens Foothill Arnica, Orange Arnica, Shining Leopardbane - USA West of Rockies plus MI; Canada (BC to Mtb)
  12. Arnica × gracilis —Smallhead Arnica (A. latifolia x A. cordifolia) - USA (MT ID WY CO OR WA); BC Alb NWT]
  13. Arnica griscomii - Que, Nfl, BC
  14. Arnica intermedia - eastern Russia (Yakutskiya, Khabarovsk, Magadan)
  15. Arnica lanceolata —Arnica, Lanceleaf Arnica - USA West of Rockies plus AK ME NH VT NY; Canada (BC Que NB)
  16. Arnica latifolia —Broadleaf Arnica - western USA, western Canada
  17. Arnica lessingii —Nodding Arnica - Kamchatka, AK Yuk NWT BC
  18. Arnica lonchophylla —Longleaf Arnica - most of Canada; AK MT MN SD
  19. Arnica longifolia —Longleaf Arnica, Spearleaf Arnica - USA West of Rockies, BC Alb
  20. Arnica louiseana —Lake Louise Arnica - BC Alb
  21. Arnica mallotopus - Honshu Island in Japan
  22. Arnica mollis —hairy arnica, wooly arnica - - USA West of Rockies plus AK NH VT; Canada (BC Que Yuk NWT)
  23. Arnica montana —Mountain Arnica - most of Europe plus Greenland; naturalized in India
  24. Arnica nevadensis —Nevada Arnica - CA OR NV WA NV
  25. Arnica ovata - BC Alb, Yuk, USA West of Rockies
  26. Arnica parryi —Nodding Arnica, Parry's Arnica - BC Alb, Yuk, USA West of Rockies
  27. Arnica porsildiorum - Kamchatka, Yuk NWT
  28. Arnica rydbergii —Rydberg Arnica, Rydberg's Arnica, Subalpine Arnica BC Alb, northwestern USA
  29. Arnica sachalinensis - Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Kuril, Irkutsk
  30. Arnica sororia —Twin Arnica - BC Alb, Ssk, USA West of Rockies
  31. Arnica spathulata —Klamath Arnica - CA OR
  32. Arnica unalaschcensis —Alaska Arnica - Hokkaido, Honshu, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Kuril, Alaska
  33. Arnica venosa —Shasta County Arnica - CA
  34. Arnica viscosa —Mt. Shasta Arnica - CA OR CO



  1. ^ 1897 ilustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  2. ^ a b c Flann, C (ed) 2009+ Global Compositae Checklist
  3. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Arnica, Arnica montana L. includes photos and European distribution maps
  4. ^ a b c Flora of North America, Arnica Linnaeus
  5. ^ "Arnica in Flora of North America". Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  6. ^ Deliu, C. (September 2001 pages=581–585 publisher=Society for In Vitro Biology). "Clonal propagation of Arnica montana L., a medicinal plant". In Vitro Cellular and Development Biology - Plant 37 (5).  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Jenna Sumara (2006). "Arnica: the natural alternative for treating sore muscles". The Final Sprint. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  8. ^ "Arnica". Cancer Care - Integrative Medicine. The Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  9. ^ M. Wolfa, C. Tamaschkeb, W. Mayerc, M. Heger (2003). "Wirksamkeit von Arnica bei Varizenoperation: Ergebnisse einer randomisierten, doppelblinden, Placebo-kontrollierten Pilot-Studie". Forschende Komplementärmedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde 10: 242–247. doi:10.1159/000074778. 
  10. ^ "Poisonous Plants: Arnica montana". Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  11. ^ Edward Rudzki; Zdzisława Grzywa (May 1977). "Dermatitis from Arnica montana". Contact Dermatitis 3 (5): 281–2. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1977.tb03682.x. PMID 145351. 
  12. ^ Gregory L. Tilford. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. ISBN 0-87842-359-1. 
  13. ^ "Dynamization and Dilution". Creighton University Department of Pharmacology. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  14. ^ Vaughan, John Griffith; Patricia Ann Judd; David Bellamy (2003). The Oxford Book of Health Foods. Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0-19-850459-4. 
  15. ^ a b Youngson, RM (April 1997). "Randomized trial of homeopathic Arnica". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 90 (4): 239–240. PMC 1296246. PMID 9155774. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Arnica registered by medicines regulator". Telegraph. 16 May 2009. 
  17. ^ E. Ernst; M. H. Pittler (November 1998). "Efficacy of Homeopathic Arnica:A Systematic Review of Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials". Archives of Surgery 133 (11): 1187–1190. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.11.1187. PMID 9820349. 
  18. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution maps

Further sources[edit]

  • Baldwin, B. G. (1999). "New combinations in Californian Arnica and Monolopia". Novon (Missouri Botanical Garden Press) 9 (4): 460–461. doi:10.2307/3392142. JSTOR 3392142. 
  • Lyss, G., T. J. Schmidt, H. L. Pahl, and I. Merfort (1999). "Anti-inflammatory activity of Arnica tincture (DAB 1998) using the transcription factor NF-kappaB as molecular target". Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Letters 9: 5–8. 
  • Maguire, B.; Gilly, C. L (1943). "A monograph of the genus Arnica (Senecioneae, Compositae)". Brittonia (New York Botanical Garden Press) 4 (3): 386–510. doi:10.2307/2804900. JSTOR 2804900. 
  • Nordenstam, B. 1977 Senecioneae and Liabeae—systematic review. In V. H. Heywood, J. B. Harborne, and B. L. Turner [eds.], The biology and chemistry of the Compositae, vol. II, 799–830. Academic Press, London, UK
  • Stevinson, C., Devaraj, V. S., Fountain-Barber, A., Hawkins, S. and Ernst, E. (2003). "Homeopathic arnica for prevention of pain and bruising: randomized placebo-controlled trial in hand surgery". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96 (2): 60–65. doi:10.1258/jrsm.96.2.60. 
  • Wolf, S.J. & K.E. Denford (1984). "Taxonomy of Arnica (Compositae) subgenus Austromontana". Rhodora 86 (847): 239–309. 

External links[edit]