Arnica cordifolia
(Heart-leaf Arnica)

Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Family Description: Aster (Sunflower)

Key Characteristics:
Rhizomatous perennial from long, branched rhizomes.
  • single or clustered, 1-6 dm tall
  • glandular puberulent to white hairy
  • Cordate leaves often produced on separate short shoots.
  • Cordate, basal leaves
  • 2-4 pairs of smaller cauline leaves
  • 4-12 cm long, 2-9 cm wide
  • entire or toothed
  • heads commonly 1-3
  • yellow ray flowers
  • involucral bracts in two series
  • disc flowers yellow
  • pappus of numerous, white barbellate hairs
  • achenes cylindric

General Description:
This perennial is usually less than 1 foot tall including the flower stalk. It spreads into large patches by lateral root growth. It has heart-shaped, serrated, opposite leaves which are mostly basal. The plant grows under conifers, usually douglas fir or lodgepole pine. The showy, yellow flower heads are about 2 ½ inches in diameter.

Alaska to Saskatchewan to New Mexico and California to northern Michigan

Mostly in moist woodlands in shade from low to high elevations

The constituents of the genus Arnica are varied depending upon which part of the plant one is describing. The above ground parts contain volatile oils and the roots contain resins. Fatty acids and aromatics, including thymol, thymohydroquinone, arnicin, arnidendiol, arnidoiol, arnisterin, many carotinoids and flavonoids. They tend to lack toxic alkaloids.
  Flowers are most commonly used, but all parts of the plants contain active ingredients. Tincture , oil, salve, tea or bruised fresh plant parts are used for bruises, hyperextensions, arthritis, bursitis, and myalgia. It is said to work by stimulating and dilating capillaries.

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore.
Photos & Information written by Dr.Karl E. Holte,© 2002