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Arnica montana[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Madieae
Subtribe: Arnicinae
Genus: Arnica
L. 1753 not Boehm. 1760
  • Mallotopus Franch. & Sav.
  • Whitneya A.Gray
  • Gerbera Boehm.
  • Aliseta Raf.
  • Epiclinastrum Bojer ex DC.
  • Aphyllocaulon Lag.

Arnica /ˈɑːrnɪkə/ 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 plants' soft, hairy leaves. Arnica is also known by the names mountain tobacco and, confusingly, leopard's bane and wolfsbane—two names that it shares with the entirely unrelated genus Aconitum.

This circumboreal and montane (subalpine) genus occurs mostly in the temperate regions of western North America, with a few species native to the Arctic regions of northern Eurasia and North America.[2]

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

Arnica was previously classified in the tribe Senecioneae because it has a flower or pappus of fine bristles.


Arnica chamissonis
Arnica griscomii 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.[3]

They show large yellow or orange flowers, 6–8 cm (2–3 in) wide with 10–15 cm (4–6 in) 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.[3]

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.[3]

Arnica montana[edit]

The species Arnica montana, native to Europe, has long been used medicinally, but the effectiveness of this use has not been substantiated.[4]


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.[5]


Mountain arnica (Arnica montana)
Longleaf arnica (Arnica longifolia)

Accepted species:[6]


  1. ^ 1897 illustration from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  2. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Arnica, Arnica montana L. includes photos and European distribution maps
  3. ^ a b c Flora of North America, Arnica Linnaeus
  4. ^ E. Ernst; M. H. Pittler (November 1998). "Efficacy of Homeopathic Arnica A Systematic Review of Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials". JAMA Surgery. 133 (11): 1187–1190. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.11.1187. PMID 9820349.
  5. ^ "Poisonous Plants: Arnica montana". Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
  6. ^ The Plant List search for Arnica

External links[edit]