Also known as leopard’s bane, Arnica plants are adapted to a range of soil conditions, and can tolerate course, medium or fine-textured soil. They generally prefer alkaline soil. They do not do well in drought conditions and have moderate to high water needs. Try to water Arnica plants just enough to keep the soil evenly moist at all times, without allowing it to become wet and waterlogged. They bloom best with full sun, but little bit of shade can help protect them from the elements.
The German scientist and writer, Goethe (1749-1832) claimed Arnica had saved his life. The history of this superb herb, Arnica montana, goes back centuries. Known also as Leopard’s Bane, it was discovered as a medicinal plant by Europeans in the 16th century.
Growing wild in alpine meadows, it once covered the regions of Europe and America with bright orange-yellow daisy like flowers. In the 1950s Swiss Naturopath Alfred Vogel wrote that, “Arnica may be found anywhere in Switzerland up to a height of 8,500 feet.” Perhaps this is how it became known as Mountain Tobacco. Now it is becoming so scarce in its wild form that it is protected in many parts of Europe.