E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Arnica cordifolia Hook.
heart-leaved arnica (heartleaf arnica)
Asteraceae (Aster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #79167)

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Distribution of Arnica cordifolia
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a long, branching rhizome; stems solitary or occasionally a few clustered together, sparsely hairy with multicellular hairs and often glandular, 10-60 cm tall.
Basal leaves heart-shaped, often produced on separate short shoots; stem leaves opposite, 2-3 (sometimes 1 or 4) pairs, larger than the basal ones, heart-shaped, becoming lance-shaped above, glandular to hairy, stalked below, unstalked above, coarsely toothed to entire.
Heads with ray and disk flowers, 1-3, rarely as many as 7, erect, the bases sparsely to densely hairy with long white hairs, often glandular; ray flowers yellow, usually 9-16, with conspicuous teeth; disk flowers yellow, sparsely hairy; involucres 13-22 mm tall, the bracts lanceolate to oblanceolate, gradually to abruptly pointed, sparsely to densely hairy, often glandular, the tips often fringed.
Achenes 4-8 mm long, moderately to densely stiff-hairy, often with stalked glands; pappus white, finely-barbed.
Arnica cordifolia appears to hybridize with A. latifolia throughout most of its range. These plants are intermediate, especially in leaf characters. In the alpine zone of S BC a smaller phase with narrow, more or less heart-shaped leaves and more glandular achenes has been recognized by some taxonomists as var. pumila (Rydb) Maguire.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: White
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows and forests in the montane to alpine zones; common throughout BC east of the Coast-Cascades Mountains, rare on the coast and on SE Vancouver Island; N to AK, YT and NT, E to SK and S to SD, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Arnica cordifolia

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 1271 2854
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 420
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 263 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(27), BAFA(4), BG(3), BWBS(567), CWH(12), ESSF(2270), ICH(484), IDF(966), IMA(3), MH(13), MS(1336), PP(43), SBPS(263), SBS(1349), SWB(113)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane to subalpine, Western North American forb disĀ­tributed mainly in the Cordilleran region, marginally in the Pacific and Central regions. Occurs in continental boreal and cool temperĀ­ate climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence increases with increasing elevation and continentality. Grows in meadow-like communities and in open-canopy coniferous forests on high-elevation water-shedding sites in the coast-interior ecotone. Often inhabits exposed mineral soils. Characteristic of continental forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Arnica cordifolia subsp. genuina Maguire
Arnica cordifolia var. humilis (Rydb.) Maguire
Arnica cordifolia var. pumila (Rydb.) Maguire
Arnica cordifolia var. whitneyi (Fernald) Maguire
Arnica hardinae H. St. John
Arnica humilis Rydb.
Arnica paniculata A. Nelson
Arnica whitneyi Fernald

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References