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.


Herbal Concepts and Northwest Materia Medica
Live on Zoom and In-person in Eugene, Oregon

Taught by Howie Brounstein and Alex Queathem with a possible guest appearance of Steven Yeager

This 56.5 hour lecture series will give the student knowledge of herbalism without the botany and fieldwork of our full Apprenticeship Program.

This series illustrates herbal fundamental principles using northwestern medicinal plants. These native herbs were intentionally selected to serve as an accessible medicine chest and an herbal basis for further learning. Herbal preparations and medicine making labs are included throughout term. No pre-requisite required.

Click here to view an old Herbal Concepts syllabus. We have added more classes and topics, but this will give you a rough idea of the class curriculum.

Spring term runs April 2024 to June 2024 on Thursdays and some Mondays. The total cost for the spring term is $490.00 for 10 weekly evening lectures and 3 Herbal Preparation labs (32.5 hours). A $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place.

Click here for 2024 Spring Herbal Concepts schedule.

Summer term will run from mid-July 2024 to the last week in August 2024, and consists of 8 evening lectures (24 hours). The cost is $360.00. A $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place. Completion of spring term required.

Click here to register for the Spring Herbal Concepts. For more information contact the Columbines School of Botanical Studies at 541-687-7114.

A Clinical Herbalism Series: Chronic Illness in a Clinical Setting

Spaces are available “in-person” and on Zoom in our Second Year Lecture Series with Howie Brounstein.

Topics may include:

  • Local materia medica
  • Common nutritional deficiencies
  • Handling and using drop dosage herbs safely
  • Clinical intake
  • Case history review
  • Understanding lab work
  • GI tract protocols for chronic illness
  • Chronic illnesses of modern society

This class helps the student of herbalism understand chronic illness in a clinical setting. Students completing this course may be eligible for our Eugene Clinic Roundtables and Clinic Internships.

This 54 hour lecture series consists of eighteen three hour lectures from April 2024 to October or November 2024. This series runs on Mondays evenings, two to three days per month.

The cost is $810.00. A $100.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place.

Financing is available.

The prerequisite is successful completion of 1st Year Apprenticeship, 1st Year Lecture-Only Program, or one year of herbal study from another institution with approval. Call 541-687-7114 or email 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 2024 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 2024 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 am I an Herbalist?

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

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