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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
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]

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


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.[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. If taken in the wrong dose it can be very dangerous.[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. Arnica acaulis —Common leopardbane - eastern US from Alabama to New Jersey
  2. Arnica angustifolia —Narrowleaf arnica - Canada (from British Columbia to Quebec), US (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado); Russia, Scandinavia
  3. Arnica cernua —Serpentine arnica - California, Oregon
  4. Arnica chamissonis —Chamisso arnica - US West of Rockies incl Alaska; Canada (British Columbia to Quebec plus Yukon + Northwest Territories)
  5. Arnica cordifolia —Heart-leaf leopardbane, heartleaf arnica - US West of Rockies plus Alaska + Michigan; Canada (from British Columbia to Quebec plus Yukon + Northwest Territories)
  6. Arnica dealbata - California
  7. Arnica discoidea Rayless arnica - California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington
  8. Arnica fulgens Foothill arnica, orange arnica, shining leopardbane - USA= West of Rockies plus Michigan; Canada (from British Columbia to Manitoba)
  9. Arnica gracilis —Smallhead arnica (A. latifolia x A. cordifolia) - US (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Washington); British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories
  10. Arnica griscomii - Russia, Canada, Alaska
  11. Arnica intermedia - eastern Russia (Yakutskiya, Khabarovsk, Magadan)
  12. Arnica lanceolata —Arnica, lanceleaf arnica - US West of Rockies plus Alaska, Maine New Hampshire, Vermont, New York State; Canada (British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick)
  13. Arnica latifolia —Broadleaf arnica - western US, western Canada
  14. Arnica lessingii —Nodding arnica - Kamchatka, Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia
  15. Arnica lonchophylla —Longleaf arnica - most of Canada; Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota
  16. Arnica longifolia —Longleaf arnica, spearleaf arnica - US West of Rockies, British Columbia, Alberta
  17. Arnica louiseana —Lake Louise arnica - British Columbia, Alberta
  18. Arnica mallotopus - Honshu Island in Japan
  19. Arnica mollis —Hairy arnica, wooly arnica - - US West of Rockies plus Alaska, New Hampshire + Vermont; Canada (from British Columbia to Quebec plus Yukon + Northwest Territories)
  20. Arnica montana — Mountain arnica - most of Europe plus Greenland; naturalized in India
  21. Arnica nevadensis —Nevada arnica - California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington
  22. Arnica ovata - British Columbia Alberta, Yukon, US West of Rockies
  23. Arnica parryi —Nodding arnica, Parry's arnica - British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, US West of Rockies
  24. Arnica porsildiorum - Kamchatka, Yukon Northwest Territories
  25. Arnica rydbergii —Rydberg arnica, Rydberg's arnica, subalpine arnica - British Columbia, Alberta, northwestern USA
  26. Arnica sachalinensis - Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Kuril, Irkutsk
  27. Arnica sororia —Twin arnica - British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, US West of Rockies
  28. Arnica spathulata —Klamath arnica - California Oregon
  29. Arnica unalaschcensis —Alaska arnica - Hokkaido, Honshu, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Kuril, Alaska
  30. Arnica venosa —Shasta County arnica - California
  31. Arnica viscosa —Mt. Shasta arnica - California, Oregon


  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. JAMA Surgery. 133 (11): 1187–1190. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.11.1187.
  5. ^ "Poisonous Plants: Arnica montana". Retrieved 2009-12-22.
  6. ^ The Plant List search for Arnica

External links[edit]