“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time.”

- Georgia O’Keeffe -

“A background in botany is crucial to a well-trained herbalist. I can always tell the difference between a student with a botanical training and one without."

- Matthew Wood -

Imagine yourself standing by a trickling creek in dappled shade... You are in the midst of what could be powerful medicinal plants. And - Wow- what is that? Is it California Ginseng? Yes, it must be.  And you begin to imagine all the wonderful herbal honey you can supply to your friends and clients for their damp lung congestion this winter.  It's great to be an herbalist!  Then the inevitable question arises - how do I know for sure?  Maybe it's cow parsnip or even worse, poison hemlock - Yikes!  Maybe it is endangered?  And all the visions of herbal honey are now forgotten. You walk home wishing you had tools to know the plants around you on a deeper level. Well this is the course you have been waiting for…

Botany for Herbalists

weaving the herbalist into the web of life

with Matthew Wood MS (Herbal Medicine)

and Jolie Elan MS (Natural Resources/ Forestry)

This online class will provide herbalists with fundamental botanical knowledge to help us change the way we relate to plants.  We will place ourselves within the green tapestry of plant life to understand the familial relationships between plants and the ecological communities that influence their medicinal qualities.  Students will gain an invaluable framework that will undergird all their studies of herbalism, imparting a deep understanding of the nature of plant medicine and the fascinating, intelligent, healing world of plants.  To add a botanical element to one’s knowledge of herbalism, increases one’s holistic herbal perspective. Our teaching strives to help the student become a part of that greater web of life, scientifically, energetically, spiritually, archetypally, and holistically.  And, now more than ever, it is necessary to be ecological in our plant gathering; this class will guide us to harvest ecologically from the wild.  

Class cover:

  • How plants are named and grouped
  • How to see a flower: plant parts and functions; plant sex 101
  • Evolutionary history of plants and why it’s important for herbalists to know.
  • Intelligent medicine - The fascinating new field of plant intelligence - Indigenous wisdom meets modern science 
  • Plant ecology and ecological medicine – How plants relate with each other and their communities; how this influences their medicine. 
  • Major medicinal plant families - how to identify them and their shared medicinal properties
  • Botanical identification and ethical harvest
  • How to read the landscape
  • Join the free Facebook Group here!

Class details: 

8, two-hour classes 

2, 1.5 hour labs with Q&A time 

PLUS 3 hours of free, bonus material! 

= Total 22 hours of video

Class includes a detailed syllabus, reading assignments and online botany resources. 

Jolie Elan is available to answer class questions online. 

Class includes one online test per lesson 

Botany for Herbalists Certificate granted upon successful completion of the course 


Class one: What’s in a name. 

 How plants are named and classified into groups such as families, genera, species and subspecies.  How to pronounce scientific names. Fascinating botanical adventurers.   

Class Two:  From Algae to Orchids. 

We will explore the evolutionary history of plants and why it’s important for herbalists to know.  This class will take us on an evolutionary journey from single celled algae who started the photosynthesis revolution to spore bearing mosses and ferns, onto confers and gymnosperms and finally into the explosion of diversity that resulted from the emergence of the flowers and their coevolution with insects. This class will provide a vital perspective to the herbalist on the relationships within the plant kingdom and how these relationships can help us understand medicinal qualities.  We will also address how new studies in DNA that are changing the way we think about plant evolution.

Class Three: How to Really See a Flower.

This class focuses on the amazing world of flowers and plant sex. We will discuss plant parts and functions. Students will learn to see flowers through the perspective of a botanist and be able to accurately describe plants to other plant people. Class will also cover rare plants, ethical wildcrafting and using Botanical guides and keys. Resources will be provided for students to build on these skills outside of class. 

Class Four:  The Intelligent Plant Community. We will discuss the fascinating social lives of plants and how they relate with each other and additional members of the sentient living nature. We will cover some of the mind-blowing research in the new scientific field of Plant Intelligence.  This class, focused on plant ecology, will address the biological and environmental factors that determine the communities where plants grow.  We will introduce the concept of ecological medicine, making parallels between a plant’s role in the ecosystem (let’s say how cinquefoil dries a wet meadow) and its medicinal use (astringent). Students will develop skills to read the landscape. 

Class Five: Medicinal Plant Families Part 1. This class will cover the botanically distinguishing characteristics of important medicinal plant families and the common medicinal qualities in families.  

Class Six: Medicinal Plant Families Part 2. This class will discuss the botanically distinguishing characteristics of important medicinal plant families and the common medicinal qualities in families. 

The Following Will be Live, Online Classes!  

Class Seven: Medicinal Plant Families Part 3. 

About fifteen plant families contain an overwhelming majority of our major medicinal plants. In classes five and six, Matthew and Jolie covered some of these important plant families. In this LIVE class we will cover additional medicinal plant families including the Lily (Liliaceae), Oak (Fagaceae), Barberry (Berberidaceae), and Plantain (Plantaginaceae) families. We will use online botanical keys and demonstrate how to positively identify plants. There will be ample time for your questions. 

Class Eight: Plant Conservation: what every herbalist needs to know about rare, threatened, and invasive plants.   

In this important class, students will learn exactly what it means to call plant rare, endangered, endemic, or invasive.  We will discuss current legal protection for rare plants and where these measures are working and not working. We will cover ongoing efforts to conserve medicinal plants and how you can help. Students will be introduced to online resources to conserve plants and nationwide citizen science efforts to catalog and map plant populations. If we could require this class to all herbalists harvesting plants from the wild – we would. 

Online Botany for Herbalists Lab Classes 

Have you ever wondered how botanists actually identify plants?  In this live, fun, interactive class, we will use online botanical keys to positively identify several plants. We will take advantage of fantastic technology and cameras to virtually dissect flowers for everyone to see. If you want to build your botanical skills, immerse yourself in the gorgeous sex organs of plants, and become a better herbalist, please join us for these any or all of these classes.  Students are encouraged to “bring” plants they would like identified to class. 

Fine print you'll enjoy reading...

Start at anytime! Complete the lessons at your own pace. Both the monthly and the 1-year payment options give access to pre-recorded and upcoming live, online classes while you are an active monthly *subscriber or during the 1-year rental period. All active subscribers (monthly or yearly) have access to the live, online classes. Once the live class has happened, it will be edited and added to the curriculum, where students will need to complete classes in succession to proceed to the next class. If you are interested in our NEXT CLASS be sure to attend the live, online class. Also, if you are caught up in your studies to the point of the NEXT CLASS, you will have access to the recording as soon as it is posted - within 2 days of the live, online class class. A minimum of 5 monthly payments in addition to successfully completing the tests are required to receive a certificate.

About Jolie Elan

Jolie Elan, M.S. is the founding director of Go Wild Institute, which offers educational and mentoring programs that weave science, myth, and spirit to awaken our nature and find balance in the great web of life. Jolie is a deep ecologist, herbalist, consulting botanist, and educator. She has inspired thousands of people to deepen their relationship with nature. Jolie has worked with ethnobotanical projects on four continents including developing the herbal medicine sector in war torn Kosovo and restoring sacred forest groves in India. 

Jolie has studied both herbalism and botany for twenty-five years and has taught botany to herbalists for almost a decade. She also acts as a spiritual companion for those who wish to increase their intimacy with the divine, especially through the natural world.

Jolie received her B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Environmental Studies, her Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University, and her certification in Spiritual Direction from the Chaplaincy Institute.



  • 1

    FREE 2-hour Intro. to Botany for Herbalists - Quite likely the most entertaining intro video you'll ever watch!

  • 2

    FREE 2+ hour BONUS - Herbalism and Plant Conservation with Matthew Wood and United Plant Savers Director Susan Leopold

  • 3


    • Welcome Message
    • Syllabus
  • 4

    Class one: What’s in a name

    • Reading Assignments
    • Class 1: Handouts and Supplementary Reading
    • Class 1: Video
    • Class 1: Audio
    • Class 1: Quiz
  • 5

    Class Two: From Algae to Orchids

    • Class 2: Reading Assignments
    • Class 2: Video
    • Class 2: Audio
    • Fern Reproduction
    • Gymnosperm vs. Angiosperm
    • How To Identify Trees
    • Mosses and Fern Reproduction
    • Ponderosa Pine
    • Story about Conifers
    • Class 2: Quiz
  • 6

    Class Three: How to Really See a Flower

    • Class Preparation Notes and Reading Assignment
    • Class 3: Supplemental Reading and Activity
    • Inferior Ovary
    • Plant Walk
    • Class 3: Video Part 1
    • Class 3: Audio Part 1
    • Class 3: Video Part 2 - Plant Sex
    • Class 3: Audio Part 2
    • Class 3: Quiz
  • 7

    Class Four: The Intelligent Plant Community

    • Class 4: Supplemental Information
    • Class 4: Video
    • Class 4: Audio
    • Class 4: Quiz
  • 8

    Class Five: Medicinal Plant Families Part 1

  • 9

    Class Six: Medicinal Plant Families Part 2

    • Class 6: Video
    • Class 6: Audio
    • Class 6: Quiz
  • 10

    Lab: The Rose Family

  • 11

    NEXT CLASS: Lab: Tuesday August 6th, 7:00 - 8:30pm Central Time

    • Webinar Instructions
    • ***Webinar Link***
  • 12

    Class Seven: Medicinal Plant Families Part 3 - Live Online Class with Jolie and Matt - Aug. 29th - 7:00 - 9:00pm Central Time

    • Webinar Instructions
  • 13

    Class Eight: Plant Conservation - Live Online Class with Jolie - Date TBA - 7:00 - 9:00pm Central Time

    • Webinar Instructions

Two Payment Options

$19 Monthly or $180 for 1-year Rental

Start at anytime! Complete lessons at your own pace. Both options give access to pre-recorded and upcoming live, online classes while you are a monthly *subscriber or during the 1-year rental period.
SAVE $$! 1-year Access for $180