Book Reviews

Botany & Wildcrafting Course Review

This past Spring I was given a chance to take a new class from Herbal Academy. The new course was on Botany & Wildcrafting. So what does this have to do with hiking and backpacking you might ask? A lot I would tell you. I am not shy about my love of identifying wild plants while hiking, and that often for me, a simple walk in the woods or a meadow is enough to satisfy me now. This past summer, with turning our land on Whidbey Island into a functioning farm, often the only time I had to hike was while we cut trails through dense forest here.

We had just moved onto our new property that our farm & homestead is on, when I was approached about the class. With acres of land, and spring turning into summer, I was outside most days just trying to figure out what our land even held. It was take a course on it, or drive people up the wall with posting photos daily of “What is this plant?”. And believe me, I was doing that a lot this past spring.

Like all of the courses I have taken through Herbal Academy (I have been studying herbalism for a few years), I was pleased with the quality of the content, and the presentation. You can take the course at a slow or fast pace, and it comes with a full color printable textbook in PDF format (I print it off, punch holes, and put into a 3 ring binder). One of the biggest parts is they cover the ethics of wildcrafting/picking, and stress the importance of being careful with endangered plants.

While foraging and wildcrafting are hot topics now a days, the idea of trekking into the woods to forage for your own food and herbs may have you feeling intimidated. Or you may even be a little scared, which is to be expected if you don’t know what you are doing, especially when trying your hand at it for the first time. Even for myself, as both a hiker and a farmer, there is so much I don’t know! I was excited when the class was announced, as a goal of mine for our hiking trips has been being better at plant ID. Sure, I could identify most wildflowers, but greens? Not so much. And knowing plants that are also might hold medicinal value? Even better.

And yes, I did learn a lot. The class ended up taking me a lot longer than I had planned. That was just me not having free time. Fall is on us, and with less than 9 hours of daylight and rainy season having started, I finally had time to finish up the last half (I got the ID part done in spring though!).

The Herbal Academy Botany & Wildcrafting Course, a well-layed out course that will guide you through the art of wildcrafting, teach you the science of plant identification, and answer your many getting started questions, all while build your confidence along the way. Curated by an expert team of herbalists and botanists, this program explores plants as living beings, their fascinating ecological relationships, and the ways that our own ecosystem can shape your relationship with plants.

By the end of the class, you will have the information to safely wild harvest and use at least 25 common wild plants, and have the tools and know-how to independently wildcraft the plants in your region. You will be able to:

  • Name all the parts of a plant, including the parts that make up flowers, leaves, fruits, and stems.
  • Identify new plants anywhere in the world using a dichotomous key.
  • Understand how to decipher plant part differences such as leaves, flowers, and fruits of separate plant species.
  • Decode patterns in nature and gain insight into plant relationships and herbal and edible use by understanding these patterns.
  • Sense of the vast number of relationships that exist between plants and other organisms that are required for pollination, seed dispersal, and survival.
  • Understand how and when to use a plant’s binomial name and discover why a plant might have more than one name.
  • Dry plants in a way that maintains their vitality, aroma, color, and flavor.
  • Create your very own herbarium of pressed plant specimens.
  • Get to know plants on a deeper level through keying, drawing, coloring, and identification.

Like most Herbal Academy courses, you have the option to upgrade with a Botanical Illustrations Workbook, including 25 botanically accurate illustrations from the class ready for your coloring skills, summary monographs from class to complete your learning experience, and blank pages for additional sketches and note-taking. So yes, go sharpen your coloring pencils!

You don’t have to get it, but I can tell you from other classes, it is worth the extra cost to have the workbook. It is light enough to carry on dayhikes. And this is coming from a person who used to think hiking was how light you could pack. If anything, in my mellowing over the years, I have come to treasure just sitting in nature and listening, watching – and possibly drawing horribly as our boys run around me. 

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: As a long-time Herbal Academy student we were offered to review this course when it was first introduced. We received the course to review for free, thoughts and opinions are all ours.