Medicinal Plants & Wild Herbs
Instructor: Lisa Ganora, Founder – Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism
August 10 at 7 a.m. – August 12 at 4 p.m.
Join us in the field and classroom as we discover the indigenous and naturalized medicinal plants of the Northern Rockies of Montana. Home of four distinct floristic provinces (Cordilleran, Boreal, Arctic-Alpine, and Great Plains), the Glacier area offers an exciting diversity of species. Lisa will introduce both traditional and scientific methods of positive plant identification including observation, organoleptics, mnemonics, and botanical keying. We will also discuss the regional history of wildcrafting and harvesting ethics for population restoration and sustainable relationships with the ecosystem. After our time in the field, we’ll use some locally-cultivated herbs to demonstrate and practice with traditional, yet scientifically-informed techniques for making basic preparations for home use: infusions and decoctions, tinctures, infused oils & salves, and oxymels. Rekindle your ancestral relationship with medicinal plants and learn some practical skills that were common knowledge only a few generations ago!
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp
Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)
Day 1: Introductions will begin at Field Camp at 7 a.m. where we will dive into the use of North American medicinal plants throughout history. Important safety issues: learn to avoid the poisonous plants of your area. Traditional identification skills: careful observation methods, organoleptics (the ancient art of investigating plants with your senses), mnemonics (using patterns & distinctive features of plants as memory aids), and an introduction to botanical keying. Understanding plant populations and their place in the ecosystem. Harvesting and wildcrafting ethics: what not to do and when and where not to do it. Habits of using and taking versus learning to respect and preserve. Understanding our relationship with and impact on the botanical environment. Traditional and contemporary methods of practicing regenerative herbalism. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m.
Day 2: Breakfast will be served at 6 a.m. Next, we will begin our guided foray into the McDonald Creek Valley to meet the local plants, practice our identification skills, and focus on using keen observation and organoleptics to understand various species and plant communities. Lisa will share stories of ethnobotanical uses and her scientific understanding of phytochemical constituents and how these contribute to the health-promoting potential of medicinal plants. We will meander rather than hike, operating on “Earth Time” and practicing the art of plant sitting: slowing down and going deep with our observations and experiences in order to truly remember the identifying characteristics of the herbs. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. after returning to Field Camp.
Day 3: Breakfast will be served at 6 a.m. Today, we will learn the basic skills of preparing home remedies using cultivated local herbs: drying and preserving herbs; how to make a strong “herbal tea” by infusion and decoction; how to craft a potent infused oil and turn it into an all-natural salve with beeswax; how to create an elixir (a concentrated historical version of syrup) and an oxymel (a very popular home remedy for winter wellness); and how to make consistent and high quality tinctures (extracts preserved with alcohol and water) for home use. We will use safe, common region- and season-appropriate herbs to make our products and discuss how to preserve and store them. The course will be concluded at 4 p.m.
Food: The following meals are provided: Lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 3.
Accommodations: Two nights of lodging are included with the course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.
Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.
Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2 liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Please bring several small containers to take your creations home. You will also need to bring Everclear or 100 proof Vodka (750ml) for tinctures and a pint bottle of olive oil for medicinal oils.
Physical Requirements: Easy walking. We will move slowly on relatively flat trails. Elevation gain will be less than 500 feet.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credits for our courses.