Tag Archives: wild edible plants

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

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


Foraging in the Sonoran Desert

Foraging in the Sonoran Desert


Saturday, October 17, 2015 8a – 4p
$75 per person

Location: near Tucson; to be announced upon registration
Exploring and observing our desert home for the great variety of tasty and nutritious wild plant foods it offers. Living in the Sonoran desert, particularly southeast Arizona, one must consider the mountains as well as the low desert. Together we will explore the local terrain in search of wild plant foods.
Join local herbalist & forager, John Slattery, on a wild foraging journey in our local desert and mountains. We will be exploring the great diversity of native wild foods which exist in our local habitat. Important out of season wild plant foods will be demonstrated with samples and field identification. Basic topics covered will include:
Proper Identification of Edible Species
Time of Year for Proper Harvest
Methods of Preparation
Location, Environment, and Habitat for each Plant

Numerous wild foods will be identified, and we will sample several locally available wild foods. Additionally, samples of a variety of “shrubs” made with wild prickly pear fruit juice and a homemade prickly pear vinegar will be shared as we discuss the possibilties of creating locally foraged, wild drinks.

Please bring proper walking shoes, needed protection from the sun, adequate water for a full day of sun exposure, plate/bowl, cup & utensil (for sampling) and a packed lunch. Our meeting place will be announced closer to the scheduled date of class. Limited to 12 participants. Contact John at John@SonoranHerbalist.com with any questions regarding the class.

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist
Tucson, AZ
© 2015


Field Study: Borderlands – Pajarito Wilderness

Sonoran Herbalist Program
September 4-5, 2015   


Class Fee: $205

Field Study: Borderlands – Pajarito Wilderness

Discussion, Application, Gathering and Processing of Wild Herbal Medicines of the riparian canyons, desert grasslands, and oak savanna of the Pajarito Wilderness at the Arizona-Sonora border.

with John Slattery

This 2-day, 1-night camping excursion takes place in the remote and rugged desert and canyon terrain known as the Pajarito Mountains of southern Arizona. Situated west of Nogales, AZ and south of Tucson this land is home to a variety of rare, endemic plants as well as abundant bird, insect, reptile, and animal species (including the jaguar). Our explorations will take us through steep, desert canyons lined with a dense vegetation including manzanita, alligator juniper, sycamore, Emory oak, kidney wood, saya, ocotillo, mala mujer, canyon grape, cardinal flower, vervain, skullcap, willow, sage, bricklebush, wild oregano, and many, many more. Summer rains often bring tremendous moisture and verdancy to these canyons and grasslands creating a lush landscape not often seen in Arizona. With the guidance of experienced herbalist and forager, John Slattery, we will traverse this terrain in search of a great variety of medicinal plants. Each participant will learn to properly identify these plants as we discuss their virtues and explore their potential healing qualities. There will be opportunities for group herb gathering when abundance is encountered. 

Each participant is required to provide their own transportation, camping equipment, food, and water. A central, 2-burner propane camp stove will be provided for the group’s usage. A full list of suggested camping and class supplies will be provided upon registration.

Each participant should be aware of the environment which we are entering. It is a wild place with very little amenities provided (there’s access to an outhouse a long walk/short drive from camp). There will be no running water or other usual amenities available to us. Cell service is very limited and intermittent in the area. With the summer rains come a great variety of insects, including mosquitos and chiggers. Although not dangerous, they can make one uncomfortable. Further details on how to prepare oneself for this camping trip will be provided upon registration.

No prior experience is necessary, but an openness to learning is essential. General fitness to sustain a mild exertion in a hot, humid climate is required.

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist  © 2015

Tucson, AZ  

An Introduction to Edible Plants of the Sonoran Desert with herbalist & forager, John Slattery

Food Conspiracy Co-op
Thursday, May  21

The Sonoran desert holds a vast array of edible plants. There are nearly 400 edible plants found in the low desert alone. When we add the high elevations of the sky islands the diversity of wild food plants is staggering. Join John for a discussion (with slideshow), and sampling, of our great variety of wild edible plants. The nutrition, and unique tastes are two simple reasons to take to foraging for your food. The experience of relating with the wyld Earth to gather one’s food is a revolutionary act in itself.

Register for the class here:

John Slattery, Sonoran Herbalist
Tucson, AZ
© 2015

Monthly Classes at Desert Tortoise Botanicals


London rocket (Sisymbrium irio)


Herb of theMonth Series

at Desert Tortoise Botanicals

November 22 (Sat. 3-5p):  Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)  

December 13 (Sat 3-5p):  Onion  (Allium spp.) 

January 10 (Sat 3-5p):  London Rocket  (Sisymbrium irio)

February 14 (Sat 3-5p):  Calendula  (Calendula


Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis

March 22 (Sun 2-4p): Chamomile  (Matricaria recutita)

May 2 (Sat 3:30-5:30): Canadian Fleabane (Conyza canadensis)

Class Fee – $10

Register now to reserve your space or pay at the door (Limited to 15 participants):


Price: $10.00

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

Join herbalist John Slattery on an exploration of the plants at the Desert Tortoise Botanicals garden. From naturalized plants to the intentionally planted he’ll be covering what’s in season. Traditions of use, edibility, medicine making, ecological significance, how to cultivate, clinical applications, and how to talk your neighbor into letting you harvest their weeds (so long as they’ve resisted using herbicides). Whenever applicable we’ll be tasting herbs, preparing as food and as medicine, sampling preparations, and discussing their historical and current significance. Each class will leave you inspired and excited to enjoy the plants of your area more thoroughly as you incorporate them into your life.