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 busy clinical practice in Eugene, Oregon. He is well known for his brilliant in depth teaching style and his passionate love of plants.

Steven Yeager has been studying our local flora and ecology since 1995, both wildcrafting and preparing herbal preparations for himself and the community. He enjoys botanizing and exploring Oregon’s wild places. He was the manager of the Columbines and Wizardry herbal business and has been a teacher in the Apprenticeship Program since 1997. He is laboratory and quality control manager at Mountain Rose Herbs. In 2011 Steven became an elected trustee of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and is currently participating with many of the AHPA’s committees.

Heron Brae is a northwest-born botanist, herbalist, rewilder, and wildcrafter. Since 1997 she has studied plants through the Wilderness Awareness School, Columbines School of Botanical Studies, Colette Gardiner, and Evergreen State College, where she earned a BS in botany and ecology. She lives in the woods near Ashland, Oregon, and spends her time working towards interdependent ways of living with wild plants through restoration forestry, crafty harvesting projects, community building, and independent ethnobotanical research. She guest teaches regionally in various venues, specializing in wild foods tending and rewilding culture.

Mel Kasting is the administrator and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. In addition to Columbines, she has taken online classes though the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism and has interned with Howie Brounstein and other herbalists in the Eugene area. She spends her off hours seeing clients, wildcrafting, and medicine making for her business, Artemis Herbs.


What is the Columbines School?

Low Elevation Meadow

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.


Free Herbalism Podcasts

On October 13, 2013, Mountain Rose Herbs sponsored Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager to teach for free at the Free Herbalism Project. They are in the process of releasing the podcasts from these exciting lectures.


Here is the first episode from the event with herbalists/botanists Howie and Steven. Learn how bitters can help promote healthy digestion in many situations, sing along to That Bloated Feeling, and enjoy their Oregon Grape tips and expertise!


Howie and Steven from the Columbines School of Botanical Studies talk about the medicinal properties of aromatic plants on the respiratory, immune, and reproductive systems. They also cover a favorite western medicinal plant, Osha, Ligusticum, and offer practical alternatives to the wild root, like thyme, that are commonly cultivated and found in the kitchen.

Click here to listen to these episodes, and more as they are released.

2016 First Year Field Apprenticeship

Taught by Howie Brounstein, Steven Yeager, and Heron Brae

Please Note: The 2015 Field Apprenticeship Program and the waiting list are full.

We are now accepting applications for the 2016 Field Apprenticeship Program. The interview process for 2016 begins in September 2015. This class fills up quickly and spaces are limited, as we accept only 18 apprentices per year. The best way to assure an interview for the 2016 Field Program is to fill out an interview request form and send it to us as early as possible.

The 2016 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 in Eugene, Oregon

Taught by Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager

We designed this 56 hour lecture series to illustrate 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.

Spring term runs April 2015 to June 2015 on Thursdays and some Mondays. The total cost for the spring term is $390.00 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.

Summer term will run from mid-July 2015 to the first week in September 2015, and consists of 8 evening lectures (24 hours). The cost is $290.00. A $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place. Completion of spring term required.

For more information or to reserve your spot, contact the Columbines School of Botanical Studies at 541-687-7114

A Clinical Herbalism Series in Eugene, Oregon

Chronic Illness in a Clinical Setting

Spaces are still available 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
  • nutritional and herbal support for the reproductive system
  • recovery from birth control pills

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 2015 to October 2015. The cost is $675.00. A $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your place. Financing is available. Completion of one-year of herbal study is a pre-requisite. 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 2014 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 2014 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.

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