Columbines School

News & Events:

Our Instructors and Staff:

Howie Brounstein has taught botany, herbalism, and wildcrafting extensively for decades, including at such herbal establishments as the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. He is the co-owner and a primary instructor of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies and has a clinical practice in Eugene, Oregon. He is well known for his brilliant in depth teaching style and his passionate love of plants.

Leah Kays Leah is a 2006 graduate of Columbines School of Botanical Studies and has been involved with the school since. She is an herbalist, botanist, and bartender from Portland, Oregon who has moved from a substitute teacher to a full time Columbines instructor.

Welcome to the Columbines School Homepage

What is the Columbines School?

The Columbines School of Botanical Studies offers a unique educational program ranging from entry level lectures in community herbalism to a three year program including botany, ecology, wildcrafting, plant pharmacy, physiology, pathophysiology, and clinical herbalism. Operating for over three decades, we specialize in field programs where the majority of the classes are outside with the plants for a truly ‘hands on’ experience.

Here is a downloadable pdf version of our most current Course Descriptions. Right click on link, and choose “save link as” to download.


40th Annual 2024 First Year Field Apprenticeship Program

Taught by Howie Brounstein and Leah Kays

We are now accepting applications for the 2024 Field Apprenticeship Program. We are conducting interviews now. It fills up quickly and spaces are limited, as we accept only 12 apprentices per year. The best way to assure an interview for the 2024 Field Program is to fill out an interview request form and send it to us.

The 2024 Field Apprenticeship is comprised of a field program and a lecture series. The field trips are the backbone of our educational curriculum in which you will experientially learn field botany, ecology and wildcrafting techniques, as well as defining your relationship with nature. The lecture series provides the inside classroom environment required for note taking and lecture-based learning.

Upon completion of the Apprenticeship, you will be able to identify, locate, harvest, process, and use unfamiliar plants outside of the class setting. This skill will apply throughout the world beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Monoptilon bellidiforme, Desert Star

Monoptilon bellidiforme, Desert Star

Sunflower Family (Asteraceae) Identification Workshop for Professionals
with Howie Brounstein

Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023
Time:6:00 – 9:00 pm Pacific Time on Zoom
Cost: $60

Many botanists shy away from Asteraceae identification because of the family’s complexity and unique terminology.

This professional level taxonomy class will demystify Asteraceae identification. With a handful of family specific concepts, identification of the genera in our keys becomes straightforward.

After illustrating the unique family characteristics, we will go over the major couplets in the beginning of the Asteraceae keys in both The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California and Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual by Hitchcock and Cronquist, Second Edition.

Prerequisites: This class is for professionals or serious students who are familiar with taxonomic keys and standard botanical terminology.

Howie Brounstein is a botanist that has taught field botany and taxonomy extensively for decades. He is the owner and primary instructor of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies in Eugene, Oregon. He is well known for his brilliant in-depth teaching style and his passionate love of plants.

For more information or to reserve a spot, call 541-687-7114 or register here.The zoom link will be sent out two days before the workshop and the morning of the workshop. It be recorded and saved for download for a few months.

2023 Physiology for the Herbalist on Zoom

This 36 hour eighteen class zoom series is designed for the retention of the basic physiology concepts. Students who completed the first year lecture series or have had one year of herbal training with another herbalist may participate in this class.

This introduction will focus on membrane physiology and the nervous system. This is the same class taught at Michael Moore’s Southwest School of Botanical Medicine for seven years and is ideal for those wishing to study with physiology oriented herbalists.

It will run some Tuesdays to Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific Time from September to November, 2023. The cost is $540; a $50 deposit is required. The required text is The Physiology Coloring Book by Kapit, Macey, and Meisami.

Class Dates:
Tuesdays – Thursdays 6:00 – 8:00 PM

September – 26, 27, 28
October – 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 25, 26
November – 1, 2, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16

Click here or call 541-687-7114 for more information, or to reserve a spot.

Columbines Online Distance Learning Program

The Columbines School of Botanical Studies will soon be releasing our online distance learning program. Click here to be put on our mailing list and notified when the exciting event occurs.

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What is Botany?

Botany is the science of plants: their life, structure, growth, classification, as well as the study of the plant life in a specific area. In this section you will find plant lists of the western United States, original articles and links pertaining to the science of plant identification, as well as other aspects of the scientific study of plant life.

View 2022 Plant Lists as the Season Unfolds!

Plant Lists of the Pacific Northwest:
These plant lists, field trip highlights, and lecture topics are from the Columbines School of Botanical Studies 2022 Apprenticeship Program in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and the surrounding areas. New material will be added regularly. Read and enjoy as the season unfolds.

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What is Wildcrafting?

trees: berberis nervosa habitat

Wildcrafting is gathering plant material from its native “wild” environment. Wildcrafting is stewardship. This means we take care of the land and our plant populations or stands. We harvest in a way that insures the health of the stand for our children. We should be able to return to this stand year after year. It will teach us many secrets about ecology and population dynamics. It is not a one-night stand.

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What is Herbalism?

The art and science of herbalism is a practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts promoting health, and preventing and modifying illness. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, and herbal medicine.

When an I am Herbalist?

jim mcdonald has been asking me for years to post my answer to this question.

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