Meadow Arnica Seed Pack


Arnica chamissonis. 

Arnica is a gardener’s best friend; it heals bruises and sprains – and insects love it. Best used as a medicated oil or poultice on areas of pain from inflammed muscles and joints. It should never be used on broken skin or taken internally. 

Arnica chamissonis – or ‘meadow arnica’ – is native to America and not to be confused with the official ‘medical’ species, Arnica montana – or ‘mountain arnica’, which is native to Europe. Both have similar properties, but meadow arnica is much easier to grow and more abundant than its European cousin, which is now listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species as a result of over-harvesting. 

Given a sunny position and rich loamy soil, it will start producing flowers in its first year, and by the second year will be thick carpet of yellow. Of all the herbs in Earthsong Seed's nursery, this appears to be the one most loved by the butterflies. 

Sowing and Growing 

Arnica is a seed that benefits from a short period of cold-moist stratification before sowing in the spring. The easiest way to do this is to mix your seed in a small amount of damp sand (1 teaspoon is enough), seal in a plastic bag and keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks sometime at the beginning of March. Don’t worry if you miss the window for stratification – or if that sounds like too much hard work – the seeds will still germinate, but it may take longer and you may get a lower germinate rate. 

The seeds require warmth and light to germinate so should ideally be sown in a greenhouse or propagator; sow on the surface of the bed, pot or tray, and gently press the seeds into the soil keeping the soil damp until germination. 

Before planting out be mindful that Arnica chamissonis has a habit of spreading via its rhizomes as well as by seed. This only becomes a problem when it starts to spread into the root systems of other plants, making it hard to remove (without uprooting the other plants). We sometimes hammer in some metal strips or offcuts of wood to prevent it from spreading. But in some areas of garden its habit of spreading is a welcome bonus! 

Uses and Benefits 

 One of a herbalist’s favoured solutions for bruises and sprains, arnica is a renowned for local application. Made into an oil, salve or cream it is used for any local pain and inflammation due to engorged veins, rheumatism or from mild traumas. But never if the skin is broken and never internally as it is toxic. 

Arnica has a deep action within the skin communicating with the connective tissue and deeper layers in the epidermis and dermis. It is renowned for healing deep injuries such as bruises, strains, sprains and swelling and treating muscles and joints by the topical application of the plant extract. Its sesiquiterpene lactones, arnifolin and helanalin, along with the polysaccharides have been shown to encourage the healing effects of the immune system. It also contains thymol found in thyme as well as some resins and astringent tannins. The infused oil contains azulenes present in the essential oil, similar to those found in german chamomile, which are anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and soothing to irritated, sensitive skin. Its anti-inflammatory action is carried deep within the tissues whilst it encourages the lymphatic drainage the reduction of swelling and discomfort. In the skin these benefits encourage repair deep within the dermis and epidermis and reduce congestion and puffy skin. Arnica has an affinity for irritated and damaged skin to relieve discomfort and restore harmony. It improves the elasticity of the skin keeping it smooth, supple and supported. 

It is also important to mention that Arnica montana – partly due to overharvesting and partly due to its very specific growing requirements – has become very rare in its natural habitat and is now listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species, so should only be purchased from a verified sustainable source or grown yourself. 

Harvesting and Preparation 

 Pick the flowers as they open in early summer. The flowers will start going to seed within a few weeks, so make sure you harvest while they are in full bloom. Arnica’s sesiquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, volatile oils and carotenes are well extracted from the fresh flowers as a fixed oil. 

You can make an oil using 1 part freshly wilted flowers to 3 parts of oil, or you can make a salve. Or a 1:10@70% tincture applied topically or added to a cream


One potential downside of the sesquiterpene lactones is that they can act as mild to potent allergens for susceptible individuals. Reported reactions have ranged from varying degrees of allergic contact dermatitis all the way up to severe anaphylaxis requiring emergency treatment. Because these compounds are so widely distributed among the Asteraceae, cross reactions can easily occur. A person might become sensitized to the sesquiterpene lactones in one plant (e.g., Ragweeds – Ambrosia spp.) and subsequently will have a reaction to a novel species (e.g., Chamomile or Yarrow) in the family. This is why the herbalist should be cautious when using Asteraceae herbs with people who have a tendency toward respiratory and contact allergies or problems with chronic eczema / atopic dermatitis. 

Minimum 100 seeds per pack.