The arnica has finally begun to burst. Unlike Balsamroot, which some confuse with arnica since both belong to the sunflower family, it grows within the shadows of trees, offering a colorful blanket for the forest floor. Plants grow individually on somewhat delicate, erect stems. Most do not branch out, and the flowers have a slight aromatic smell. Arnica is currently used medicinally in ointments for strains, sprains and bruises.
To harvest for salve, gently pop the flowers off their stems. Be sure to leave the roots intact. Place inside a bag and DO NOT lick your fingers or rub your eyes. Be sure to either wear gloves or use one hand for harvesting, and remember which hand you used.
The arnica flowers are often filled with bugs, so I place the flowers in a plastic bag to transport home, and transfer immediately to a mason jar that sits outside for several hours before covering with oil.