Category Archives: Sonoran Herbal Class

SHA Intermediate Course: Male Reproductive: Pathophysiology, Herbs, & Energetics


Saturday, July 30  9a-4p

Location: Tucson, AZ

Instructor: John Slattery

Class Fee: $60


The male reproductive system is possibly the least understood aspect of physiology today. Coupled with an aversion to visit the doctor for such issues, men stand a higher chance of suffering from reproductive system ailments due to unaddressed issues, or poorly understood conditions. Arguably, many men have suffered due to inappropriate preventative prostate interventions and operations. Somewhere in the middle is a well-informed, well-attuned male equipped to address the health of his reproductive organs in an optimal way.

This class will delve into some of the major issues such as prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, prostatitis, testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and hydroceles. We’ll explore pathophysiology from a Vitalist perspective, cover herbal materia medica, and include a discussion of plant energetics as well as working with plants and the elements to heal lower chakra trauma.

One cannot view the reproductive health of the modern male, I believe, outside of the current paradigm which involves ample cultural and personal trauma ultimately affecting the individual at their most base level – creativity, reproduction, connection to their root. This is where intimate work with plants can shed relevant light down a path towards personal healing by bringing “our story” to our awareness. This will be discussed and detailed as well.

This class is for clinical herbalists, practicing, or in-training, men concerned with their well-being, or women interested in helping the men in their lives. Each participant will receive written class notes to go along with the material including a list of materia medica and practices for developing and maintaining optimal reproductive health.


Price: $60.00

2016 SHA Module, Session 16: All About Acorns

shelled southern live oak acorns November 19   9:30 – 5p

Location: Tucson, AZ

Instructor: John Slattery

Our final module of the year offers a full day of working with acorns. Two species of acorn will be our main focus: southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) and bellota (Quercus emoryi), the former we’ll be viewing with ripe acorns. We may also view another non-native, cork oak (Quercus suber) from Spain. The former is found in abundance as a locally landscaped oak, and the bellota is our prominent wild acorn, locally. These delicious and tremendous local food resources will be looked at in depth during this class, and we will also go through all stages of processing from dry acorn to fully leached flour. Some food prep will be involved and pre-made samples will be available.

Although processing acorns does take some time, there are ways to manage it rather well. I will be sharing from my experiences as we go through the process of preparing our local acorns for consumption.

southern live oak acornThe mighty oak is renowned throughout the world as a symbol of strength, courage, integrity, vitality, and protection. There is no other food which has sustained the human race to such an extent as the acorn. And today most are barely aware that it can be eaten. How can such an abundant food go unnoticed for so many generations? The time of reawakening to the vitality and nutrition present in the oak’s acorns is upon us, and with much culinary delight!

We are entering the age of the acorn renaissance! I hope you can join me.

Our meeting place will be in central Tucson to discuss and view fruiting oak trees. After a couple of hours in the field, we’ll head to the Desert Tortoise Botanicals office for processing the acorns.


Price: $98.00


2016 SHA Module, Session 14: Field Study: Sonoran Coastal Thornscrub & Wild Food and Medicine of the Seri (Mexico)

Tiburon islandOctober 21-25, 2016

Estero Santa Rosa, Sonora, Mexico

Trip Fee: $450  (includes instruction, translation, and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module features 4 nights camping on the beach at the Sea of Cortéz in Sonora, Mexico

As the nights grow longer and the days cooler the varied habitat at the edge of the Sea of Cortéz in northern Sonora is very pleasant. Just north of the small fishing village of Bahia de Kino (and the retirement/vacation community, Kino Nuevo) is the beautiful natural area known as Estero Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa Estuary). We’ll make our camp at the edge of the beach amongst coastal thornscrub vegetation adjacent to mangrove estuarine environment. Directly to the west of our camp sits the tall peaks of Isla Tiburón (“Shark Island”), the largest island in Mexico and the cherished homeland of the Seri, or Comcáac, people. Before us is a small bay with calm waters, and behind us to the east is the rugged terrain of the Sierra Seri where the desert bighorn sheep still roam.


We will be exploring the uniquely beautiful vegetation of this area during our 5 days of beach camping. Our studies will be within the context of a bioregional approach to herbalism including explorations into foraging for wild plant foods in the area. This being the homeland of the Seri, we will be discussing many of their traditional uses and applications of these plants. During at least 1 or 2 days of this trip we will be visited by a local family of herbalists who I’ve been working with for several years now. They have offered to share with us how they use these plants for healing. They also employ a variety of marine algae, crustaceans, and other creatures from the sea for medicine (as well as food, abundantly).

Although this is some of the driest desert (in terms of annual rainfall) in North America the moisture brought in from the sea this time of year can keep vegetation verdant and flowering despite long-term drought. Various cacti, desert shrubs, plants of the mangrove, salty beach plants, and annual flowering plants comprise our list of plants to study including, sahueso, pitaya, desert lavender, brittlebush, red mangrove, cosahui, uvaibena, ironwood, desert hibiscus, ocotillo, coastal sand verbena, elephant tree, torote, palo blanco, malva de los cerros, balloonvine, puncture vine, pitaya ágria, and so much more!

Maria Luisa with desert lavender

Each day will be comprised of walkabouts through the desert, in arroyos, along the coastline, and along the margins of the estuary. Here we will stop frequently to look at plants, identify them, discuss their virtues, and, on occasion, gather some for medicine making or, when available, as food. We will be visited at our camp by the local Seri herbalists (Molino Martinez family) and they’ll be taking us on walks as well.

Any supplies needed for medicine making, camping, or in general will be listed in the information sent once registration is complete.  All participants need a passport, or passport card. We will be bringing all our supplies for the 4 days with us to camp. The nearest town is about 30 minutes away.

Transportation: Transportation is each participant’s responsibility. Ridesharing can be organized upon registration. There are no permits required for where we are going (high tourism corridor), but Mexican law calls for purchasing auto insurance for Mexico. There are simple online services to purchase Mexico auto insurance; details will be given upon registration.

Questions, email:

$65 Discount if you register by August 21, 2016  Use Coupon code: ESTERO


Price: $450.00

Saguaro Harvest Gathering 2016

Lower Sonoran Desert – Riparian Area

near Kearny, AZ

Friday, June 24 – Monday, June 27, 2016

Begins 5:30p on Friday; Ends 12p on Monday

Workshop fee – $480

Come join us for the most amazing foraging experience the Sonoran desert has to offer!

Sagauaro Fruit HarvestGathering saguaro fruit from high atop these majestic grandfather and grandmother columnar cacti is one of the most joyous acts known to bird or animal (yes, we are animals, too). Despite the extreme dryness and heat this luscious, juicy and incredibly sweet and delectable treasure appears atop these giants of the desert.

The Saguaro Harvest Gathering puts us in the midst of a mature saguaro cactus forest at the time of prime fruit ripening. Our accommodations are at a beautiful fully restored historic ranch along the Gila river complete with a large pool for cool dips in the afternoon heat.

We will prepare traditional saguaro syrup (bahiduj sitol), and create unique preparations including fermentations, ice cream, saguaro seed bread, and so much more! These fruits are truly one of the most divine tastes in existence, the ‘gold of the Sonoran desert.’ Once we’ve gathered the fruit with a traditional Tohono O’Odham kuiput, we will then explore this majestic food through some unique culinary creativity.

Have you ever tasted one? If not, you should consider joining me for this Saguaro Harvest Gathering at the heart of saguaro harvest season in the Sonoran desert. We’ll beat the heat by starting before sunrise, then take advantage of the beautiful accommodations to bath (in the pool or adjacent river) and nap in the afternoon. This is not just for adults – I started my daughter saguaro harvesting just after she turned 1 year old. DSC_0011

Included in the workshop fee are the 3 nights stay at this gorgeous ranch house, 4 meals created in-house by our staff, and all instruction and guidance through the entire process of saguaro harvesting and preparation by herbalist and wild food forager, John Slattery. Each participant will also go home with freshly dried saguaro fruit, and perhaps a bit of syrup.

Friday will serve as an introduction to the place, the saguaros, and the tools of the harvest. Saturday through Monday we will begin our day before sunrise (@4:45a). Before our walkabout through the saguaro forest we will give thanks for what we seek to gather from the available bounty. By late morning we’ll bring our harvest back to the ranch house for processing and cooking. There will be a 2-3 hour siesta in the heat of the afternoon, and we will continue the processing of the saguaro fruit in the late afternoon. Monday we’ll wrap up after lunch around noon.


Full Workshop Fee



A deposit holds your place in this workshop. Full Payment is due by June 10, 2016.

No refunds are available after June 1, 2016.

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist

Tucson, AZ

© 2016

2016 SHA – Session 6 Field Study: Happy Valley (Segments Enrollment)

IMG_2679Three separate segments of Session 6 at Happy Valley, at the base of the Rincon Mountains just north of Benson, AZ are available to individual enrollment for a limited time!

For more details on the location and other trip details click HERE where you can also enroll in the entire Session at a discounted rate from the individual segments.

Listed below are the options for enrolling in individual segments of Session 6 at Happy Valley.

Note: Multiple days are available via the dropdown menu with additional costs for each extension shown as “plus” the specific dollar amount.

Segment #1 Thursday, May 12  6a-4p    (9.5)      

Price: $145.00

Segment #2 Friday, May 13  7a-4p     (8.5)       

Price: $125.00

Segment #3 Saturday, May 14  7a-4p     (8.5)       

Price: $125.00

Our explorations will lead us from lush riparian groves of forested canopy to desert chaparral hillsides and mid-elevation canyons below oak & juniper woodlands moving up into pine forests. So, a great diversity of flora awaits us on this trip!  Some moderate hiking on some days (up to 3 miles per day, tops) and very little hiking other days. Our caravan will stop at one location (en route to our campsite) on Thursday where we will spend half the day before arriving at camp.

The weather may be in the 90s or drop down into the 50s at our mid-elevation camp site. It’s best to prepare for everything in between dry heat and damp cold weather just to be sure. Bring whatever camping equipment you will require to be comfortable (e.g., a tent/tarp/vehicle to sleep in, sleeping mat, sleeping bag/blankets) and ample food and water to last the 4 days of our trip. Our Sunday session concludes at 2p.

If you register for the Friday segment, or later, you will receive detailed written instructions on where to meet up with our group. A phone call will also be arranged in order to communicate the directions clearly.







I hope you can join me for this adventure!

Any further questions, email

2016 SHA – Session 5 Field Study: Molino Basin (Segments Enrollment)

DSC_0335Three separate segments of Session 5 at Molino Basin, in the Santa Catalinas near Tucson, AZ are available to individual enrollment for a limited time!

For more details on the location and other trip details click HERE where you can also enroll in the entire Session at a discounted rate from the individual segments.

Listed below are the options for enrolling in individual segments of Session 5 at Molino Basin. Choose multiple segments from the dropdown menu to receive a discounted rate.

Note: Segments #1 & #2 will offer the most intensive field botany training of this course, however, the entire Session will be infused with field botany training.

Segment #1 Thursday, April 14  6:30a-4:30p  

Price: $150.00

Segment #2 Friday, April 15  7a-4p    

Price: $140.00

Segment #3 Saturday, April 16  7a-5p      

Price: $150.00

We’ll be exploring the plants of the Catalinas, from low to high elevation (3,000′ – 9,000′), from our base camp at Molino Basin. All hikes will be relatively short in duration (less than 1 mile) and of a gentle pace. We will car caravan to a variety of locations on the mountain from our daily start at Molino Basin campground.

I hope you can join me for this adventure!

Camping options are available for Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday night. Please specify upon registration (in the comments section or by separate email) if you prefer to camp with the group on any one, or all of the nights.

Any further questions, email

2016 SHA Module, Session 12: Prickly Pear Food & Medicine

prickly pearSeptember 17     6a – 4p

Location: vicinity of Tucson, AZ

Instructor: John Slattery

Class Fee: $125

Prickly pear is a native cactus of the American deserts which can now be found all over the world. Perhaps the most emblematic wild plant food of the North American deserts, prickly pear is particularly abundant in the higher portions of the Sonoran Upland Division where cattle grazing has multiplied its abundance considerably. This terrain happens to be essentially encircling Tucson, AZ, the site of our day long exploration of the prickly pear as food and medicine.

This class will involve a morning visit to a wild population of fruiting prickly pear cactus with hands-on discovery of the flavors and tastes of prickly pear fruit. Plant identification, harvesting techniques, optimal harvesting times, and medicinal applications (first-aid and chronic ailments) will be explored here in-depth. We will conclude our class indoors in central Tucson to complete the processing of our fruit into juice and for later storage. Different processing and storage options will be discussed and demonstrated. We’ll also demonstrate (and taste!) some delicious prickly pear drinks, including ferments.

Each participant will walk away with a better understanding of when to harvest the fruit (not just when they’re red!), best practices for processing the fruit for juice, and an expanded awareness of its great variety of medicinal applications.

Questions: Contact


Price: $125.00

Refund Policy: Full refund by September 3, 2016. 50% refund after September 3, 2016 (unless you can fill your spot by a referral). Zero refund after September 13, 2016. Note: Any refunds applied over 60 days after registration will incur a 3% fee.

2016 SHA Module, Session 11: Field Study – Chiricahuas

ChiricahuasSeptember 6-11    *5 nights camping

Trip Fee: $575  (includes 6 days of instruction and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module features 5 nights camping in the wild and rugged Chiricahua mountain range of the Desert Archipelago. Here Sierra Madre Occidental meets the Rocky Mountains – each at their extreme edges.

Our days will be spent in contemplation with the plants, exploring, discussing what we find, gathering plants for food and medicine (maybe some mushrooms, too), processing and preparing medicine in the field, and exercising our full faculties to gain knowledge from the place which we inhabit. This is the longest module of the 2016 SHA Program, allowing participants to sink deeply into place and plants creating strong relationship bonds. These bonds deeply inform the medicine we know and receive from plants. This is the hidden gem within Bioregional Herbalism. It must be experienced to begin to understand its power and relevance.

No other Sky Island in the US is quite like the Chiricahuas. Whether for unique geology, convergence of ecotones, diversity of plants, animals, and insects, or unique cultural heritage and energetic resonance. Here we will encounter such important medicines as lobelia, Sonoran grape root (relative of Oregon grape), red root (3 species), self-heal, poke, vervain (3 species) and chaparral; and such unique or unheralded plants such as bidens, silk tassel, Wright’s eryngo, lead plant, indigobush, mariola, wild oregano, pony’s foot, Arizona cypress, beebush, and many, many more.

Camping will be in primitive camp sites with outhouses and picnic tables. Good drinking water is available at one spring, and drinking water can be filtered from a nearby stream. Transportation is each participants’ responsibility, but carpooling may be arranged upon registration; 4wd or high clearance is not necessary, but may be helpful. All camping equipment is each participant’s responsibility, but limited number of items (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats) are available for a $4 rental fee per item. Each participant will be responsible for their own meals on the trip.

Questions, email:

Registration for this Session is now closed


2016 SHA Module, Session 10: Field Study: Sierra Blanca – Mid-Summer

DSC_0057August 25-27     *2 nights camping

Trip Fee: $295  (includes 3 full days of instruction and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module offers a return to the high elevations of the Sierra Blanca which we first visit and explore in July. Now the tremendous verdancy will be at its peak, rivers and creeks will be flowing with the force of frequent summer downpours, and the land will offer extensive opportunities to explore plants for nourishment and healing.

The summer rains will be at their peak and the nights beginning to reach down toward freezing at the higher elevations of the range. Autumn has just begun, but the verdancy is still tremendous and the plants abundant. Some of the special plants we will encounter on our travels through the Sierra Blanca include blue elder, oshá, betony/lousewort, gentian, star solomon’s seal, cutleaf coneflower, Artemisia species, Siberian elm, Canadian fleabane, red osier dogwood, spikenard, nettle, and so much more.

Camping is primitive, but we will have access to water for drinking and washing. We will begin and end our session in the town of Alpine where good drinking water is available, as well as gasoline, restaurants, basic groceries, showering facilities, laundry facilities, and motels/cabins for those looking to stay before or after the workshop. We may also pass through Alpine during our session for brief stops to re-supply.

Questions, email:


Price: $120.00

*When choosing “Single Day” or “2 Days” you will be able to specify which day/s in subsequent email correspondence


2016 SHA Module, Session 9: Field Study – Pajarito Wilderness

Peña Blanca LakeAugust 18-20     *2 nights camping

Trip Fee: $240  (includes 2 and a half days of instruction and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module features 2 nights camping in the border region of the Pajarito Wilderness where oak woodlands meet savannah, and the rare jaguar prowls over intricately laced canyons. Unique, endemic vegetation surrounds us with plants reaching their northernmost location touching those which extend down from the north. A rare and beautiful opportunity to delve into the tremendous flora inhabiting this rarely visited territory.

The monsoons should be well underway and the hillsides moist and green covered in tall grasses and unusual forbs. Here we will discover the very edible saya and its prickly neighbor mala mujer. Kidneywood, manzanita, beebush, lobelia, wild oregano, Sonoran giant hyssop, skullcap, cudweed, altamisa, soapberry, verbena, estafiate and many others will be found throughout our field of study. Numerous plants will be covered in depth. We will practice deep relationship with several plants, and plant energetics will be woven throughout this field session. Clinical applications underlay all aspects of our study and discussion. Healing with plants is a broad subject; many aspects of herbal medicine will be touched upon throughout.

Our camp site is primitive and dry. We will need to pack in all of our water. Depending on availability (and our group size), our camp sites may or may not have tables or outhouses adjacent (however, some sites do and outhouses are within 1 mile of any camp site). Otherwise, there are no facilities where we will be for the entire trip. Swimming is available in the nearby lake and there are swimming holes to visit on one of our canyon hikes. It is a wonderfully stunning place to be in.

Questions, email:


Price: $105.00

*When choosing “Single” or “2 Days” you will be able to specify which day/s in subsequent email correspondence