Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Arnica Montana

Today I saw a flower bed full of what I thought was calendula officinalis,
or pot marigold. But as I was looking for photos of it,
I realized the flowers I saw aren't actually calendula,
which looks like this:
by TeunSpaans. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

I started hunting for what those yellow-orange flowers might be
and ran across references to arnica montana,
a little-known flowering herb that I've been familiar with
 and occasionally used as an ointment a couple of decades now.

According to Wikimedia Commons, arnica has many names: 
leopard's bane, wolf's bane, mountain tobacco, and my favorite:
Celtic nard (narde being an archaic term for ointment 
prepared from a plant rhizome).
I've never seen arnica growing anywhere, 
but this is what it looks like in bloom:
"Arnica montana 180605" by Bernd Haynold - Own work. 
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 
via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arnica_montana

The cream or gel  prepared from arnica 
has been used for centuries to alleviate the discomfort of muscle sprains, 
aches, pains and  bruising. 
All that and pretty flowers too.

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