Tag Archives: Bioregional Herbalism

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: john@johnjslattery.com

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


Price: $450.00

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 sonoranherbalist@desertortoisebotanicals.com

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 john@johnjslattery.com


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 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: john@johnjslattery.com


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: john@johnjslattery.com


Price: $105.00

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

2016 SHA Module, Session 8: Field Study: Sierra Blanca – Early Summer

Sierra BlancaJuly 20-24     *4 nights camping

Trip Fee: $590  (includes 5 full days of instruction and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

*Featuring an in-depth segment on Phytochemistry (8hr)

This module features 4 nights camping in the high elevations of the Sierra Blanca of Arizona. An area of diverse habitats and where the sources of our major riverways descend from high mountain springs. The perfect backdrop for the budding bioregional herbalist to learn the principle of contextual awareness through experiential learning.

As the summer rains begin to moisten the Earth once again the vegetation of the mountains explodes filling all valleys and covering mountainsides. During this first session in the Sierra Blanca we will be exploring all available seasonal herbs while addressing and discussing some wild plant foods as well. The seasons of wild oregano, yerba del lobo, skullcap, wild mint, and St. John’s wort will be at their height. The fresh tips of spruce, Douglas fir, and white fir will be covering the higher mountains. Several of our root and seed harvests of the autumn will now be easily recognizable for their foliage and flowers. The study of the forest for its medicine will be our intent, gathering up experiences to inform our paths of healing and sharing with those we encounter. These 5 full days serves as an immersion in the healing plants of the Sierra Blanca, the White Mountains of Arizona, of the Apache, and those who have lived here throughout time.

Additionally, this module features an in-depth exploration of phytochemistry. All major classes of plant constituents will be covered, and we will discuss, in-depth, the phytochemical makeup of several plants we visit on this trip. Handouts will be given to accompany the lecture.

Camping is primitive, and we will have 2 different campsites to reduce driving time overall. We will have access to water for washing although drinking water will have to be hauled in (unless purified on site). We will, however, make passes through the town of Alpine where good drinking water is available, as well as gasoline, restaurants, basic groceries, and motels/cabins for those looking to stay before or after the workshop.

Questions, email: john@sonoranherbalist.com

$90 Discount if you register by May 15, 2016  Use Coupon code: SIERRA8


Price: $590.00

2016 SHA Module, Session 6: Field Study: Happy Valley

spud rockMay 12-15   *3 nights camping

Trip Fee: $450  (includes 3 nights camping, 4 days instruction, and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

This module features 3 nights camping at the foot of the Rincon Mountains in the San Pedro watershed. Here the Chihuahuan desert meets the Sonoran desert meets Chaparral plant communities, meets Sierra Madrean Occidental, meets Rocky Mountain flora – all within several miles walking distance. The Sky Islands boast the greatest diversity of mammals in North America, and the plant diversity is equally impressive.

As we near the end of spring and the beginning of the dry summer season, the mid-elevation canyons present some of the most abundant and lush vegetation available to us in southeast Arizona. We will visit a variety of canyons and riparian watersheds from our oak woodland campsite. Some of the plants we can hope to see include: yerba mansa, cottonwood, Emory oak, Mexican blue oak, turpentine bush, agave, sotol, silk tassel, manzanita, penstemon, bricklebush, elder, black walnut, ash, wild grape, wolfberry, Sonoran giant hyssop, Texas betony, yerba santa, watercress, and more.

This session will reinforce previous lessons of Plant Energetics, Field Botany, and Habitat Observation as the full-time students continue to practice their skills in these areas. Drop-in enrollment participants will be included in all exercises and lessons throughout this module.

Camping is primitive with no restroom facilities or running water (with the exception of nearby seasonal creeks). We will need to bring in all of our water and food. However, there is plenty of wood for camp fires.

Questions, email: john@sonoranherbalist.com

$75 Discount if you register by March 15, 2016  Use Coupon code: HAPPY

Register here:  

Price: $450.00

2016 SHA Module, Session 5: Field Study – Molino Basin

Glandularia gooddingiiApril 14-17   *3 nights camping

Trip Fee: $476  (includes 3 nights camping, 4 days instruction, and handout materials)

Instructor: John Slattery

*Enroll in Segments*

This module features 3 nights camping in the Santa Catalinas, which boasts the greatest diversity of flora of all the Sky Islands, or Desert Archipelagos. From our oak grove base camp in Molino Basin we will visit a variety of plants growing in diverse habitats such as Mexican palo verde, oreganillo, ocotillo, silk tassel, Arizona cypress, hop tree, douglas fir, valerian, aspen, and beargrass.

Becoming a bioregional herbalist means learning to identify the plants in your region. Yes, having a skilled teacher along with you to show you the way is the preferred method for most, if not all. And although this Program offers just that, it is important to remember that everyone will continue to meet new plants as they continue to grow and expand their knowledge. Thus, this module has a focus on learning the skills of field botany and how to begin to glean knowledge from plants you don’t know and haven’t even met before. Although these skills are woven throughout the entire SHA Program, this module takes a depth look at the process of “keying out” plants in the field, or using a botanical key to identify the plants we meet even if we have no idea what they are to begin with. This detailed process takes practice, and practice we will throughout this session. In addition to becoming more familiar with the keying out process, we will review several resources for keying out plants from our region – from the basic to the most sophisticated (or, complicated, for that matter). Additionally, we will build upon our field discoveries overlaying the principles and methods of individual research which can lead to enlightening discoveries of how our local plants can be utilized for food and medicine. Our explorations will include engaging in the process of developing relationship with plants, exploring plant energetics, discussing possible resources for research on plants, and sharing our discoveries and processes as a group.

Questions, email: john@sonoranherbalist.com

$77 Discount if you register by February 15, 2016  Use Coupon code: MOLINO

Register here: 

Price: $475.00


Plant Energetics: Building Immunity

Monarda fistulosa var. menthifoliaSaturday, December 12, 2015 10a – 4p

Location: Desert Tortoise Botanicals, 4802 E. Montecito St. Tucson 85711

Instructor: John Slattery

This class will focus on a variety of herbs (for example, wild oregano, spikenard, & yerba santa) which we can utilize to help strengthen and stabilize our immune response. Through skilled combination we will create several herbal medicines which each participant will bring home.

Exploring the energetics of plants opens a world of discovery. As we discover a plant’s Nature, we begin to develop intimate relationship which offers unlimited possibilities.

Several herbs will be tasted and discussed within the context of the priniciples of Vitalism, and the way in which our bodies are nourished and healed. Following discussions we will make a variety of herbal remedies together, including syrup, oxymel, and tea blends.

This class will be held at the office of Desert Tortoise Botanicals. Please bring a lunch as we will take a short lunch break midday. A discount of 10% off all Desert Tortoise Botanicals products as an added benefit to all class participants.

Class fee: $75  *All materials fees included.


Price: $75.00

Field Study: La Sierra Blanca, Autumn (Roots & Seeds)

DSC_0353Saturday, October 4


Class Fee: $98

Field Study: La Sierra Blanca, Autumn (Roots & Seeds)

Discussion, Application, Gathering and Processing of Wild Herbal Medicines & Foods of the White Mountains of Arizona

with herbalist & forager John Slattery

This full day of field study with herbalist and forager, John Slattery, is a unique opportunity to experience hands-on learning with the plants and a group of interested and committed students. John has been developing relationship with the plants of this area for the past 11 years. We will be viewing and discussing several different plants, in depth, throughout the day with opportunities to gather some plants for food or medicine. Within the context of autumn, this class focuses on a variety of wild root and seed medicines and foods. Some field medicine making and food prep instructions will be provided, but, likely, limited processing will be performed during our class time together due to limited time.

Each participant should bring a packed lunch, 2-4L of drinking water (including something to conveniently carry it on short walks), comfortable footwear for walking, a daypack/bag, rain gear, suitable sun protection, notebook, pen, and camera (optional). Optional camp-out with our core group nearby to Alpine, AZ on Saturday night.

Carpooling may be available upon arrival at our meet-up location in Alpine, AZ on Saturday morning.

To register:

Price: $98.00