PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Meadow Arnica (Arnica chamissonis)

Like many of our favorite plants, Arnica is powerfully healing & therapeutic as well as charming & beautiful. There are dozens of species of Arnica in North America. Most are found in western mountain states and are especially concentrated along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California, from lowlands to high elevations. Arnicas have adapted to many particular ecological niches from moist stream banks in meadows to craggy mountainous outcroppings. They are delightful to discover when hiking or climbing throughout summer in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon. We grow Meadow Arnica which is adapted for lower elevations.

Generally, Arnicas of any kind appreciate at least a half day of sun and will thrive in full sun. In an urban garden setting they will thank you for consistent watering by blooming for a long stretch of summer. Left to their own, they will act like they do in the wild which is to bloom vigorously in late spring and early summer, drop their seeds, and remain as a little tuft of green leaves till cooler weather in autumn. A colony will develop from the seedlings but will be hampered by aggressively growing weeds or crowded out by bigger garden citizens. It loves a safe space at the edge of a path or in a rockery. Meadow Arnica is about a foot tall with small cheery yellow daisies.

The medicinal part is mostly in the flowers. Harvest the blooms every two days and drop them in a 70% alcohol solution immediately. Picking the blooms accelerates their reproductive cycle and without immersion in the alcohol solution, they will turn from flowers to a puff of dandelion-like seeds within a ½ hour. Arnica tincture or liniment is used topically for the reduction of pain and inflammation from bruises, sprains, rheumatic joint & muscle pain, and strains. Do not ingest it. Here is a great article from the NIH about it: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8537440/