Arnica montana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Asterales Compositae

Scientific Name: Arnica montana L.
Common Name(s):
French Arnica des montagnes
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2013. The Plant List Version 1.1. Available at: (Accessed: July 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: There are two known subspecies: Arnica montana ssp. montana and Arnica montana ssp. atlantica A.Bolòs described in 1948.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-06-22
Assessor(s): Falniowski, A., Bazos, I., Hodálová, I., Lansdown, R. & Petrova, A.
Reviewer(s): Dostalova, A., Ericsson, S., Gigot, G., Gygax, A., Jogan, N., Melnyk, V., Montagnani, C., Petrova, A., Rasomavicius, V., Burden, A. & Bilz, M.
Global and European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

Arnica montana is a widespread European endemic and is found at hundreds of localities. The populations are stable in some countries and declining in other parts of its range. The reasons for this decline are partly due to collection of the plant for medicinal purposes and partly due to habitat loss. This plant is found mainly in acidic and nutrient poor grasslands and shrublands, a habitat that changes among others due to abandonment of grazing activities or fertilisation to use the land for agriculture. The species is currently classed as Least Concern as it is too abundant to be at risk of extinction in the near future, however the population trends should be monitored.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Arnica montana is endemic to Europe where it is found from Norway to the Balkans and from Spain to Ukraine.

In France, the species is reported from more than 1,000 localities and is found in the Alps, Pyrenees, eastern and Mediterranean area and is only absent in the west and northwest. In Italy, it occurs in the Alps and northern Apennines. It is common in the Czech Republic in mountains and is scattered in all of Slovenia with small local populations. It occurs in most of Denmark's lowlands in the mainland and in the west. In Norway and Sweden there are hundreds of localities. In Switzerland, the species can be found over more than 50% of the country. In Ukraine, it grows in the Carpathian Mountains. Single isolated populations were founds in the 19th and first half of the 20th century in the lowland part of Ukraine (Lvivska and Zytomirska regions) but are now likely to be extinct. In Bulgaria, the only evidence for the species presence is a single herbarium sheet from the Rila mountains without further specifications of the locality. Its presence is therefore considered doubtful.
Countries occurrence:
Andorra; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; France (France (mainland)); Germany; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (Kaliningrad); Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine (Ukraine (main part))
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2750
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The populations are stable and big in some countries such as Switzerland and the Ukrainian Carpathian mountains but seem to be slowly or strongly decreasing in other countries. In Slovenia and the Czech Republic, for example, there is a slow decrease due to changes to its natural habitat and collection of the plant. There are strong population declines, e.g. in Lithuania where the size of subpopulations is usually small and the species is sporadically distributed, or in Scandinavia due to shifting agricultural methods.

In Luxembourg, it used to be locally quite common in grazed grasslands and heaths and was formerly known from 14 localities whereas now only four populations remain. The current populations show no establishment of seedlings.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Arnica montana is a perennial plant that flowers from June to July and prefers acid and poor soils. It is mainly found in grassland and shrubland and alpine mountain environments. It also grows in dry pine forests, meadows, grazed moors on siliceous soils, marginal parts of spruce forests, open forest edges, mowing pastures, road and path sides, margins of peatlands. It can be found in coastal heath and benefits from occasional burning of heathlands.

The species occurs in the following habitat types of the Habitats Directive (Commission of the European Communities 2009):
  • 4030 European dry heaths
  • 6230 Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)
  • 4060 Alpine and boreal heaths
  • 9430 Subalpine and montane Pinus uncinata forests
  • 7140 Transition mires and quaking bogs


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Arnica montana is a medicinal plant that is used to treat bruises and sprains externally but also internally for the treatment of heart complaints and as a booster for the immune system. It is used internally in homeopathic medicine but can be toxic in quite low doses. The parts of the plant that are used are mainly the flowers, but also the roots, the leaves or the whole plant is known to be harvested (Plants For A Future 2010). It can also be used to make spices.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The picking of the flowers for medicinal purposes is one of the main threats to this species although it is illegal in some countries (e.g. France).

Another threat is coming from agriculture. Here the application of fertilisers to grassland in order to increase the ph, such as limestone dust, decrease the suitability of the habitat for Arnica montana that naturally prefers nutrient-poor soils. The abandonment of grasslands leads to a change in vegetation such as mosses and tall plants that can outcompete Arnica montana. A change of grazing from cattle to sheep impacts the species although it is generally well adapted to grazing as it has flat leaves on the ground. Reforestation also reduces the habitat available to Arnica montana.
In some areas skiing is affecting the species as it causes soil compaction.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Arnica montana is listed on Annex V of the Habitats Directive and on Annex D of the Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein.

There are protection measures in place for some European countries and it features in some national red lists:
  • In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia it is classed as Vulnerable on the national red lists.
  • Czech Republic: protected by national Law and included in national parks and protected landscape areas.
  • France: protected in several regions (Aquitaine, Centre, Bourgogne) and more than five departements, included in several protected areas.
  • Germany: Classed as Vulnerable (level 3) on the German Red List (Ludwig and Schnittler 1996).
  • Hungary: classed as Extinct in the Wild on the national red list
  • Italy: not on the national red list but some populations are in regional parks and prevents regional collection by law.
  • Lithuania: classed as Vulnerable, protected according to national and regional law.
  • Luxembourg: classed as Critically Endangered on the national red list.
  • Slovenia: classed as Vulnerable on the 2002 red list, protected by law which it prevents from being collected. Several localities are in protected areas such as Natura 2000 sites, national parks, regional parks.
  • Sweden: classed as Near Threatened on the Swedish red list 2010.
  • Switzerland: classed as Least Concern on Swiss Red List (Moser et al. 2002) but regionally found in protected areas. Collections are accepted but there are rules about the amount.
  • Ukraine: included in the 1996 Red Data Book of Ukraine, but not included in the 2009 edition of this book. It is protected in the Carpathian biosphere reserve, in the Tapichirkiskij, Urochychcze Zatinky, Teresjanka, Chorkyj Dil, Stebnyk protected areas, and in the nature monument Verchnje Ozerychere.
Future recommended actions include to manage the mowing of meadows, provide land owners with financial support to graze, and control the change of agricultural practices. In general, in face of the threats the species is facing it should be monitored. In Luxembourg, site management to encourage seedling establishment is needed.

Citation: Falniowski, A., Bazos, I., Hodálová, I., Lansdown, R. & Petrova, A. 2011. Arnica montana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T162327A5574104. . Downloaded on 25 September 2017.
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