Snow Arnica – Arnica griscomii

Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

Snow arnica, arnica griscomii, also known as frigid arnica in alaska

Snow Arnica

Arnica griscomii

Common Names

snow arnica
frigid arnica


Arnica frigida ssp. griscomii
Arnica louiseana ssp. griscomii
Arnica louiseana var. griscomii


Arnica griscomii subsp. frigida
      Arnica griscomii subsp. frigida
      Arnica frigida
      Arnica frigida ssp. frigida
      Arnica snyderi
      Arnica louiseana ssp. frigida
      Arnica frigida var. glandulosa
      Arnica louiseana var. brevifolia
      Arnica louiseana var. frigida
      Arnica louiseana var. illiamnae
      Arnica louiseana var. mendenhallii
      Arnica louiseana var. pilosa Maguire
Arnica griscomii subsp. griscomii (Newfoundland and Québec)

Note on scientific names, synonyms, and subspecies: The descriptions in this post are for Arnica griscomii and the subspecies Arnica griscomii subsp. frigida. There are many arnicas and there is not total agreement on nomenclature in much literature or online. I am using the ITIS accepted names, as they should be the most up-to-date. However, these are also very commonly listed as Arnica frigida – as described by Verna Pratt in the Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers.

Genus: Arnica
Family: Asteraceae (sunflowers)
Order: Asterales
Full Classification

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WARNING – POISONOUS – Uses section for information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

Arnicas are toxic when injested or applied to open skin wounds. No direct information about usage of arnica griscomii, but other arnicas are well documented as a dermatological aid for swellings, back pain, and bruises, usually from an infusion of roots or mashed plant. Non-homeopathic Arnica Montana has been shown to be more effective than placebo for postoperative pain, but studies are limited [1].


Snow arnica (arnica griscomii) is yellow-flowering plant 5-40 cm (2-16 in) tall. Stems are typically unbranched. It has a rosette of 1-4 pairs of basal leaves with oblong blades with few teeth. Stems are covered in white, silky hairs. Most common is a single, but up to 3 stems rise from the root with erect or nodding heads. It has between 6-17 yellow ray florets and yellow disk florets. Arnica griscomii ssp. frigida has involucre bases that are densely pilose and lanceolate bracts.

Distribution and Habitat

Arnica griscomii is indigenous to Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, as well as eastern Russia. It is typically found in alpine environments in barren, calcium-rich soils, in rocky or gravelly terrain in full sun.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (Plants)
SubkingdomTracheobionta (Vascular plants)
SuperdivisionSpermatophyta (Seed plants)
DivisionMagnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
ClassMagnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
FamilyAsteraceae ⁄ Compositae (Aster family)
GenusArnica L. (arnica)
SpeciesArnica griscomii
(Direct Children)
Arnica griscomii ssp. frigida (snow arnica)
Arnica griscomii ssp. griscomii

References and Further Reading


Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 44


Arnica griscomii  Fernald Taxonomic Serial No.: 509129, ITIS Database

Arnica frigida C.A. Mey. ex Iljin ssp. frigida snow arnica, USDA Database (outdated classification)


Iannitti, Tommaso PhD1,*; Morales-Medina, Julio César PhD2; Bellavite, Paolo MD3; Rottigni, Valentina MSC4; Palmieri, Beniamino MD, PhD4 Effectiveness and Safety of Arnica montana in Post-Surgical Setting, Pain and Inflammation, American Journal of Therapeutics: January/February 2016 – Volume 23 – Issue 1 – p e184-e197 doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000036

Scientific Description

8. Arnica griscomii Fernald, Rhodora. 26: 105, plate 143, fig. 7. 1924., Flora of North America

8b. Arnica griscomii Fernald subsp. frigida (C. A. Meyer ex Iljin) S. J. Wolf, Taxon. 38: 142., Flora of North America

All references accessed in March 2021 unless otherwise noted

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