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Class Notes for Arnica mollis


from the C & W Herbal Apprenticeship

 1994 by Howie Brounstein

You can use it, just don't change it, sell it, or publish it.


Compositae Arnica mollis

Common Names: Hairy Arnica

Identification: 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.

Habitat: Middle elevation creeks and moist meadows to alpine.

Associated Plants: 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.

Harvesting: 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.

Processing: 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


Uses: Primarily topical for bruises, sprains, injuries, perhaps


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.

Tinctures are used topically for oily problems, oils for dry problems.

I personally use Arnica oil for most purposes.

Michael Moore uses it internally. Use with caution. Check MPPW.

Related Plants: 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.