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A composite with ray and disk flowers, a pappus of hair-like bristles, involucral bracts in one or two equal series, and opposite leaves. Some Arnicas are rayless. Can be confused with Senecios, especially Senecio triangularis. Remember the opposite leaves as a field characteristic. Arnica mollis is a highly variable species that hybridizes with other Arnicas.
Middle elevation creeks and moist meadows to alpine.
Senecio triangularis, Riparian Mimulus sp.
Tending the Stand:
Fallow, root propagation by rhizome in extreme cases, best to find another stand if you have to tend.
Root and flowers are the strongest, it’s your choice. We harvest flowers and upper stems. Whole above ground is OK. The perennial roots will grow back if aboveground parts are harvested. This is the most ecological method if the species is strong enough. Root harvest requires thought for the continuation of the stand, but it can be done without difficulty. If harvesting for drying, harvest young flowers or buds as they go to seed quickly during the drying process.
Fresh herb is best for tincture. Fresh plants may cause an oil to go rancid from too much water, so either wilt or dry the herb.
Primarily topical for bruises, sprains, injuries, perhaps arthritis.
Increases blood flow to the area, without the warming effect of other counterirritants. Useful to potentiate other topical herbs….mix with St. John’s Wort Oil for nerve trauma….Comfrey Oil for tendonitis….etc. Do not use on broken skin. Discontinue use if reddening of the skin occurs……either dilute, harvest more of the aboveground parts for the next batch, or switch species.
Arnica is used homeopathically for similar things (bruises, etc., incl. shock), however it may be taken internally in such dilute dosages. Always check label to be sure it’s homeopathic.
Michael Moore uses it internally. Use with caution. Check MPPW.
Arnica cordifolia, Arnica montana (species used in herb trade). There are protected Arnicas in our area, so check before harvesting. The Northwest region is the global center of biodiversity for the genus Arnica.
From the C & W Herbal Apprenticeship © 1994, by Howie Brounstein.
You can use it, just don’t change it, sell it, or publish it.