302 Te Mata Road
4294 Havelock North
The search term must be at least 3 characters long.
No result found.
Your basket is empty! Click on this link to start shopping!
Biodiversity. When the small medicinal plant arnica blooms, Marinella is so
excited she can hardly sleep. After all, the harvest is a momentous occasion
when everyone returns to their villages in the remote Apuseni Mountains in the
With bells ringing, a wooden horse-drawn wagon rumbles around the corner. On
the bed of this simple carriage, heavy logs have been tied down with a few
ropes. The wagon slowly rolls past simple, grey wooden houses and villagers who
are raking hay into large piles. When the wagon stops, people take a break and
have a chat.
It has only been two years now that a paved road leads to Ghetar, the village
where Florin Pacurar lives during the summer. The 38-year-old teaches grassland
management at the University of Cluj-Napoca and heads the Ecoflora project,
which studies the plants in the region and seeks to conserve the use of
medicinal plants as a valuable natural resource in Romania. He came here nearly
15 years ago to complete his final dissertation. Today, he owns two wooden
houses where staff members and students live during the arnica season.
Before the project building awaits a group of students who have attended
Florin’s seminar at the university. As they stroll towards the house, the
professor tells the students about the meadow plants. The most important plant
for the locals blooms with bright yellow flowers and forms green rosettes out of
its leaves at ground level: Arnica montana. Its healing properties make it a
prized ingredient in traditional remedies. In the Apuseni Mountains, arnica also
helps combat the people’s poverty – and the locals help ensure arnica’s
Large quantities of wild arnica grow on the gentle knolls and slopes of the
Romanian Carpathians, which include the Apuseni Mountains. But the plant is
highly sensitive. If too many cows graze on the meadows or the farmers use
chemical fertilisers, the arnica immediately reacts to the changed soil
conditions and disappears. It is extremely fickle and only thrives on
predominantly natural meadows. Although it is possible to cultivate arnica, it
is difficult to grow, and to conserve biodiversity and natural conditions in the
region, it is essential to gather plants in the wild.
Wild arnica is a precious treasure. The medicinal plant with the sunny yellow blossoms is highly sensitive and thrives only in natural meadows. In the Apuseni Mountains of the Southern Carpathians, such meadows still exist.
Small, sun-bleached wooden buildings nestle among the spruce trees in the mountain valleys of the rugged Apuseni Mountains. Many young people have left their villages in search of a better future. But the arnica harvest for Weleda brings them back again.
Together with the farmers, Weleda maintains a sustainable wild collection project in the highest populated area of the Carpathian Mountains. The collectors are trained on how to handle the arnica plants with utmost care and expertise.
The farmers know what to look for during the arnica harvest: only the fully open flowers, with very little stem attached, should find their way into the cotton collecting bags. At least one flower must remain on the plant so that it can bloom again next year.
Other than grass and hay, a meadow alone doesn't produce much for a farmer in the Apuseni Mountains. But if arnica grows there, the meadow offers an additional source of income – and the owner has an incentive to leave it in its original state.
The farmers harvest around 5,000 kg of fresh arnica flowers every year from the unfertilized mountain meadows in the Apuseni Mountains – that means around 1,000 kg of dried flowers.
To prepare them for transport and processing, the clean flowers are spread out to dry on tightly woven mesh racks, which are then stacked above one another in a specially designed oven.
The arnica crop improves the lives of the people in the Apuseni Mountains, year by year. Such as Florin Pacurar, who came here years ago as a student. Today, he owns two wooden buildings that house the young people who help with the summertime harvest.
Arnica also provides a future for Marinella Negrea and her family. Marinella hopes that with the money she earns from the harvest, she can send her daughter to university.
The arnica crop brings hope to the people of the region – and also ensures the continued existence of the rare wild arnica. Summer after summer.
“We want to create a model so people in the region can see what is possible,”
says Florin. Cheap labour and inexpensive raw ingredients should not be the main
incentives, but rather sustainable use, fair working conditions and quality.
Florin insists on maintaining good agricultural and collection practices, which
stipulate how wild plants can be sustainably harvested and processed to acquire
a high-quality product.
To help achieve these goals, Florin and his German colleague conduct training
sessions every year with local pickers. A brochure with simple illustrations
shows the ideal method for sustainably harvesting arnica.
Many people return to the villages to help with the arnica harvest. They
spend the summer working on the high pastures and living in simple huts. When
Florin drives by on the plateau of Calineasa, they sometimes waive him over. “Is
there any work for my son yet?”, asks an elderly woman standing by a fence.
“We’ll start over the coming days,” replies Florin. The people here have
recognised the value of nature.
When they start picking, it soon becomes apparent that everyone has their own
technique. For instance, Marinella Negrea uses her thumb and index finger to
pinch off the blossom heads. She works quickly and uses both hands at the same
time. “When I know that the arnica is in bloom, I’m so excited I can hardly
sleep,” says Marinella. Her life story is typical for the region. She dropped
out of school at the age of 14 and married at the age of 17. Today, Marinella is
32 years old and has a 13-year-old daughter. “I want my daughter to attend
university so she manages to get out of here.”
As the sun disappears behind the tops of the spruce trees, work begins in the
project house. Florin’s students are helping to process the arnica. One of them
empties a bag of blossoms on a table with a metal surface, and they all sort out
small stones and unsuitable flowers. The clean blossoms are spread on tightly
woven nets that are stacked on top of each other in the dryer.
The harvest has begun and this means that for Florin and his coworkers the
coming weeks will be exhausting, as they work from dawn to dusk. But it also
means that their concept works: the sustainable collection of wild plants that
helps people and nature. It is already a challenge to convince young people in
the area that there is a future for them here. What’s more, it will become
increasingly important to preserve arnica’s natural habitat with the right
initiatives. But if people believe in the budding prospects for the future with
these yellow arnica blossoms that abound in the meadows this year, then there is
little reason for concern.
One of the mildest, most precious oils for sensitive skin
A radiant, soft blossom, universally helpful with injuries and inflammation
Arnica Montana Flower Extract supports the skin's metabolism by improving the elasticity of the skin and by increasing its resiliency. It also has an antimicrobial effect.
Be part of our natural and organic community, and be first to hear about our new products and much more!
You will receive an activation e-mail shortly.Please confirm your subscription by clicking the activation link.