1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arnica

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

ARNICA, a genus of plants belonging to the natural order Compositae, and containing 18 species, mostly north-west American. The most important species is Arnica montana (mountain tobacco), a perennial herb found in upland meadows in northern and central Europe (but not extending to Britain), and on the mountains of western and central Europe. A closely allied species (A. angustifolia), with very narrow leaves, is met with in Arctic Asia and America. The heads of flowers are large, 2 to 2½ in. across, orange-yellow in colour, and borne on the summit of the stem or branches; the outer ray-flowers are an inch in length. The achenes (fruits) are brown and hairy, and are crowned by a tuft of stiffish hairs (pappus). The root-stock of A. montana is tough, slender, of a dark brown colour and an inch or two in length. It gives off numerous simple roots from its under side, and shows on its upper side the remains of rosettes of leaves. It yields an essential oil in small quantity, and a resinous matter called arnicin, C12H22O2, a yellow crystalline substance with an acrid taste. The tincture prepared from it is an old remedy which has a popular reputation in the treatment of bruises and sprains. The plant was introduced into English gardens about the middle of the 18th century, but is not often grown; it is a handsome plant for a rockery.