Arnica montana and Other Arnica Species
Answered by: Inge Poot and Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Susan Wendov
Posted on: January 16, 2000

It was my understanding that Arnica montana could be grown in zone 5, but in your most recent catalog I see it is for zones 6-9. Is that the case?

Since this species is a high mountain species it is used to a lot of snow cover. Since snow cover can be scarce in the North American zone 5 the plant would only survive there with heavy mulching. We therefore decided to adopt the cautious option of using the zone rating given by Deni Bown in her "Encyclopedia of Herbs and their Uses" (Richters catalogue number B2730). [-IP]

I also see Arnica chamissonis as my alternative, but how marketable is this in the medicinal herb market, selling either fresh or dried flowers? All I ever see is Arnica montana. Are they both selling on the medicinal herb market in the same price range?

Several American species of Arnica are now used in the marketplace, including A. fulgens Pursh., A. sororia Green, and A. cordifolia Hook. They are mostly found in the Rocky Mountains, and has been wildcrafted for extraction for almost thirty years.

Arnica montana L., known as European Arnica, is primarily grown in (and exported from) India. The total acreage grown is estimated at less than 2,600 acres (all species) for total world consumption. North American markets are less than 400 acres.

To my knowledge, this crop has only been wildcrafted for regional use because of the limited (and declining) markets. No distinction has been made (yet) on price variations. Flowers now sell at $2.20/lb., while the Oil (steam distilled) is $76.00/lb. This is usually Root Oil, rather than Herb.

Future market prospects are about the same, with limited use and major production from India and Mexico. These sources hold their pricing low enough to prevent competition. There are other crops I might suggest if this is already a native plant. The same habitat is well-suited, for example, to Skullcap (with much larger markets).

The Mint Growers of Montana plan to have me offer a 1-day workshop on February 15th, 2000. For more information on this event, please call Steve Simonson at (406) 827-3074. The reason I mention this is that this is the very habitat for Arnica. I plan to cover specific crop selections for this region. [-RAM]

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