“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 -

Why an Herbalist Must be a Botanist

Jolie was once at a conference where an herbalist started a plant journey class with a misidentified plant.  Jolie pointed out that it was poison oak.  As herbalists, and ambassadors of the plant kingdom, we do not want to look like fools, misinform people, or poison them.  Herbalists, like masters of plants and their properties, should be able to talk to fellow herbalists and pick, plant, and grow herbs appropriately. 

Why We Created

"Botany for Herbalists"

An herbalist should always feel, in their own home environment, that they can “read the landscape” around them.  

We should know that we are part of an ecosystem, with characteristic plants in various mixtures – native, non-native, damper soil, drier soil, disturbed soil, shade-tolerant, sun-tolerant, etc.  From the tree, to the bush, to the plant, to the soil, we should understand that we are looking at a complete system with its own intelligence.  Within that microcosm we should be able to identify most of the plants we are looking at.  

While we can rely on teachers, books, experience, the infallible method is to learn to look deeply at the sacred geometry of the flower patterns made by the  sepals, petals, and male and female reproductive plants.  For the most part, plants are classified by their flower patterns into groups, families, genera, and species. 

We also need to know the Latin name in order to identify the plant in terms that everyone else can refer to.  The science of naming and classifying plants is called Plant Taxonomy.

Many herbs follow the traits of their families and have similar medicinal properties.  We might want to substitute a cousin plant with similar properties, or by knowing the family we might get a clue to the possible properties of a new plant we have not seen before.  We also must know the three or four poisonous plants that are found in most temperate ecosystems.


Finally, we want to know whether a plant is rare or common in the region where we are, and whether it can be sustainably harvested – and how to look that information up, if we don’t immediately know.  

When we know all of these bits and pieces of information and can put them together into a whole, then we are ready to pick plants in the wild and teach others about their properties on herb walks and even in the classroom. 


Learning is a Never Ending Process

“The neat thing about herbalism is that there is no end to learning.  There is always one more leaf to turn over”    ––– The late Bob Gallagher, herbalist

• Plant Ecology.  We should know that we are part of an ecosystem, with characteristic plants in various mixtures.  The plant is inseparable from the soil the water, air, pollinators, birds and of course, us. We are part of the living, sentient ecosystem.    Learning plant ecology will ground the herbalist and enable them think like an ecosystem. Geez, this plant in the rose family is growing on the edge of a wet meadow helping to dry it out, I wonder if it does the same thing in my body. 

• Botanical nomenclature and plant taxonomy (how plants are categorized).  We need to know the Latin name in order to identify the plant and converse with others about it.  Knowing the scientific name informs us where the plant lies on the family tree; who are its sisters and cousins. The herbalist can start to ask interesting questions like: “I wonder, can I substitute Hound’s Tongue for Comfrey since they are cousins in the same Borage family?” 

• Safety.  We need to know the poisonous plants that are found in our ecosystem.  

• Evolutionary Botany.  We need to know the major plant families to which medicinal herbs belong.  This gives us insight into medicinal properties and basic planetary evolution.   We want to understand the evolutionary history of plants, in order to understand the relationship between major families.  

• Herbal Education and Communication.  We will be better teachers for our students and we will have better communication with our herbal peers.  

• Plant Communication.  We want to fully appreciate plants by understanding the new scientific knowledge about how plants, and plant communities, communicate.  This is highly analogous to traditional knowledge based on plant to person communication.  We want to value both. This class delves into the science of Plant Intelligence.  

• Ethical Harvesting and Plant Propagation.  We want to know if an herb can be sustainably harvested – and how to look that information up, if we don’t immediately know. 

• Herbal Practice.  The best practitioner is the one who knows her or his field thoroughly, competently.  When we are selecting the correct herbs, we want our mind to naturally slip from one to another, making associations based on medicinal properties, tastes, ecology, botany, correct identity (at the least), safety, and ethical harvesting.  

Botany for Herbalists

Mugwort’s School of Botany (for non-muggles) - See the FREE intro video!

with Matthew Wood MS (Herbal Medicine)

and Jolie Elan MS (Natural Resources/ Forestry)

Classes 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 "Botany for Herbalists" Facebook Group 


21 Curriculum hours of video

Detailed syllabus, reading assignments, online resources, fun labs.

Online access to teachers to help answer questions.


Botany for Herbalists Certificate granted upon successful completion of the course and tests with passing grade of 70% or better on tests in classes 1-7

3 new classes coming in 2020!

Free Intro Class

Which type of non-muggle botanist/herbalist are you? Check out this hilariously delightful free intro video with Matt and Jolie - click "Free Preview" in the Curriculum section below.

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.


Most Recent Class

Around the globe, people have looked to the oaks for healing, wisdom and nourishment.  Oaks are also major players in world ecology and mythology. In this fun class we will meet the oak family and learn about oak medicine, ethnobotany and mythology. Join Matthew and Jolie as they share love stories of their favorite trees and why oaks have shaped who they are as people and healers. 

Jolie - 

Like Matthew, the oaks were the first plants to which I had an authentic spiritual connection. They opened up a door into the living nature (the word Door is actually derived from the Celtic word for Oak.) that has changed my life. When I set out to learn how to eat acorns over decade ago, I never could have dreamed that the oaks would come to me in dreams and visions to reveal ancient earth wisdom and heal me. The oaks taught me that not only are these types of relationships possible, but they are our birthright and can instruct us how to move through these times of great turning on our planet.  I suspect that the oaks are the doorway for many people, and this is reflected in ancient lore and mythology. Maybe the oaks will open the door for you too. Come join us.

Matthew - 

Both of us consider oak to be the doorway through which we entered the world of plant journeying.  I had to prepare a presentation on a single plant of my choice for Field Botany in my freshman year of college.  I choose Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), still my favorite tree.  Old Doctor Lawrence said, "your oral presentation was not very good, so you get a B for that, but you really know that tree, so you get an A for your paper."  Recalling this, Dr. Lawrence as much as said, "you know the essence of that tree," and I felt as if he understood that it was possible to know a plant like that.  It was one of the few times I felt authentic spiritual understanding while attending college.

The most recent class recordings are Classes are listed from oldest to most recent (top to bottom) in the curriculum below.

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. The recording of the most recent class is edited and added to the curriculum within 2 days of the live-online class. To join only the next live-online class, subscribe and unsubscribe right away and you will have 1 month access to the content. See HELP for details on how to do this.


21 Hours of Content - Learn at Your Own Pace

  • 2


    • Webinar Instructions

    • ***Webinar Link***

  • 3


  • 4

    Class One: What’s in a Name

    • Reading Assignments

    • Botany - Class 1: Handouts and Supplementary Reading

    • Botany - Class 1: What's in a Name - Video

    • Class 1: Audio

    • Botany - Class 1: What's in a Name - Quiz

  • 5

    Class Two: From Algae to Orchids

    • Class 2: Reading Assignments

    • Botany - Class 2: From Algae to Orchids - Video

    • Class 2: Audio

    • Botany - Fern Reproduction

    • Botany - Gymnosperm vs. Angiosperm

    • Botany - How To Identify Trees

    • Botany - Mosses and Fern Reproduction

    • Botany - Ponderosa Pine

    • Botany - Story about Conifers

    • Botany - Class 2: From Algae to Orchids - Quiz

  • 6

    Class Three: How to Really See a Flower

    • Class Preparation Notes and Reading Assignment

    • Botany - Class 3: How to Really See a Flower - Supplemental Reading and Activity

    • Botany - Inferior Ovary

    • Botany - Plant Walk

    • Botany - Class 3: How to Really See a Flower - Video Part 1

    • Class 3: Audio Part 1

    • Botany - Class 3: How to Really See a Flower - Video Part 2 - Plant Sex

    • Class 3: Audio Part 2

    • Botany - Class 3: How to Really See a Flower - Quiz

  • 7

    Class Four: The Intelligent Plant Community

    • Botany - The Intelligent Plant Community - Class 4: The Intelligent Plant Community - Supplemental Information

    • Botany - Class 4: The Intelligent Plant Community - Video

    • Class 4: Audio

    • Botany - Class 4: The Intelligent Plant Community - Quiz

  • 8

    Class Five: Medicinal Plant Families Part 1

  • 9

    Class Six: Medicinal Plant Families Part 2

    • Botany - Class 6: Medicinal Plant Families Part 2 - Video

    • Class 6: Audio

    • Botany - Class 6: Medicinal Plant Families Part 2 - Quiz

  • 10

    Lab: The Rose Family

  • 11

    Lab: The Parsley Family

  • 12

    Class Seven: Tiger Lily and Related Medicinals - Who's in The Previous and Current Lily Family?

  • 13

    Lab: Our Friends, The Oaks: Medicine, Lore, and Botany (2020)

    • About this class

    • Preview

    • Botany - Our Friends, The Oaks: Medicine, Lore, and Botany (2020) - Webinar Chat Text

    • Botany - Our Friends, The Oaks: Medicine, Lore, and Botany (2020) - Video

    • Our Friends, The Oaks: Medicine, Lore, and Botany (2020) - Audio

"Thanks Jolie... 

I have been studying herbalism for many years and am just getting into the botany aspect of it. 

So thankful you guys are doing this class. 

I wish I had realized how much I loved botany when I was younger! 

It truly is fascinating!" - L.B.

Two Payment Options

$27 Monthly or $297 for 1-year Rental

Start at anytime! Complete lessons at your own pace. Get 1 month free when you purchase the 1-year rental. Access to all classes while your paid enrollment for this course is active!
SAVE $$ HERE! 1-year Access for $297

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…