PRC Elective: Wild Medicinals & Seed Saving

Wild Medicinals: Discover the healing powers of familiar wild plants and let the forest be transformed before your eyes into a living medicine chest. Seed Saving: Skillfully select the best time and method to harvest and save seeds in order to promote a sustainable future.

Student Level
0.25 CEUs/PDAs

Length: 3.5 hours

Instructor: Amanda Howe & Lindsay Hounslow


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Need to know

Who is this course for?
PRC students (this course does not qualify for student loans)
Course length (start & watch when you want)
3.5 hours of video content
Course credits
0.25 CEUs / PDAs

*Please note that many of the associations listed under ‘CEUs/PDAs’ do not formally pre-approve online courses for credits, and thus require the student to track their own online course hours to submit for approval for their annual CEU/PDA requirements.

Lifetime access · Certificate of completion

Meet your course instructor

Amanda Howe & Lindsay Hounslow

Amanda Howe Amanda has been a Herbalist for over thirty years. She trained in England in the early ’80s and became a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. She went on to receive her MSc in Herbal Medicine from the University of Wales. Amanda worked in England in a multidisciplinary clinic before moving to Vancouver Island twenty-five years ago. Since moving to Canada Amanda has been active in practice as a herbalist and as a herbal educator. She has served on the board of the provincial Canadian Herbalists Association of BC as well as the national Herbal Practitioners Council - the Canadian Council of Herbalists Associations (CCHA), working to ensure continued access to herbal medicines for Herbalists and the general public. And she also sat on Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Expert Advisory Committee. Amanda spent several years teaching at Pacific Rim College in Victoria, BC. as a teacher in their excellent full-time Herbal Practitioner training program, and was involved in funded research projects with the Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology at Royal Roads University. Amanda is passionate about herbs and herbal medicine and about sharing the connection to the natural world that can be found through connecting with and learning about the healing power of plants. Amanda loves to teach and is happiest when she is in the garden teaching people how to grow, harvest, use and listen to the magic of the plants that are thriving there. Lindsay Hounslow Lindsay's interest in plants was cultivated in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. During 10 years of work as a naturalist guide, Lindsay gained a deep appreciation for ecology and her clinical practice integrates her respect for the profound nature of connection within our web of life. She has a deep love for plants and a passion to increase the availability of safe, effective medicines in a form that nurtures our shared spiritual and ecological health. After studies in geography, nutrition, and yoga, and mentorship in energy work, shamanism, organic gardening, and herbal wildcrafting, she dedicated herself to herbal studies and was one of PRC’s first Diploma of Phytotherapy graduates. She is a professional member of the Canadian Herbalist Association of BC and is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations. She practices herbalism in her home community of Fernwood, Victoria and is a happy gardener, yogi, and mother.

Course description

*This is a 0.25 credit PRC-Approved credit course for on-campus students only. Please note that online PRC Electives taken through Pacific Rim College Online do not qualify for Student Loans.

Wild Medicinals

Join herbalist Amanda Howe for a herb walk and learn the secrets of plants that are hiding in plain sight! Many of the plants growing around us, both native and garden plants, are medicines that have been used through the ages to heal and nourish us. Discover the healing powers of these familiar plants, and the forest will be transformed before your eyes into a living medicine chest.

You will discover that your daily walk is transformed into a miracle of discovery and connection with ancient knowledge and stories that the plants carry with them. Growing your knowledge and awareness of the plants will help you deepen your connection with the Spirit of the place you are walking through Herb Walks are full of discovery and this walk will open your eyes to the richness that surrounds you.

As we walk you will discover common plants or “weeds” that are growing by the path are healing medicines that have been used throughout time and we will weave our current understanding of the science of the herbs with time-honoured stories that carry the oral history of their use.

In the course of the Herb Walk, you will see the importance of ecological sensitivity of sustainable harvesting – not only for the plant population but also for the animals, birds and other beings, other plants, trees and shrubs for whom each plant forms a vital part of their interconnected existence.

Upon completion of this course, you will:

• Be aware of safety considerations for your herb walks

• Know what to take with you: plant identification book, magnifying glass, camera, cell phone

• Understand the wealth of medicinal uses, history, the known science and old stories, that have been handed down through time about common wild plants, trees, and herbs

• Learn the basics of how to identify common plants

• Learn common identification mistakes and how to avoid them

• Understand the importance of using Latin names rather than the common names for plants

• Know where to look for reliable information about wild medicinals

• Understand the value of being able to teach others about wild medicinal plants in your area

Seed Saving

Seed Saving is an empowering skill that supports self-reliance and helps to promote biodiversity while providing the gardener with plants well adapted to local conditions. In this course, we review botanical reproduction to deeply understand the processes involved in seed production and then look at the techniques used to harvest and save medicinal plant seeds. Finally, we review germination to complete the full cycle of working with seeds.

After completing this course you will have all the knowledge needed to effectively save your own seeds. You will be able to harvest seeds from many types of plants and will understand plant reproduction, enabling you to skillfully select the best time and method to save seeds.

During the course, we summarize seed saving techniques in a concise set of instructions. We also look in-depth at each step. You will gain an understanding of the best timing for harvest, methods for harvest based on seed type and shape, and how to select the best plants to save seeds from. Additional skills taught include drying seeds, storing seeds, testing saved seed, and germinating your seeds when you are ready to propagate new plants.

To give you a thorough understanding of seed saving, we review aspects of plant reproduction and botanical anatomy that relate to fertilization and seed production. This includes the anatomy of a flower, anatomy of seeds, and various types of seeds and fruits. Understanding flower and fruit anatomy give us the knowledge needed to harvest seeds in a way that ensures our seeds are viable for future use. We look at 5 common families of widely used medicinal plants and learn about the unique features of each family’s fruits.

We also discuss plant physiology and processes related to seed production and use, including plant life cycles, pollination, seed dispersal, and germination. In regards to pollination, we talk about open-pollinated and hybrid plants and discuss why and how a gardener may prevent cross-pollination.

In addition to the practical skills that comprise the focus of the course, we discuss seed banks and seed longevity to understand the importance of saving organic seeds to support food security and maintain our access to valuable medicinal plants.

Upon completion of this course, you will have the ability to:

  • Understand the plant anatomy involved in reproduction, including flower anatomy and how this relates to plant reproduction seed saving
  • Know about different types of fruits/seeds and how seeds are dispersed in nature
  • Comprehend plant life cycles
  • Understand pollination and how this affects seed saving methods
  • Utilize practical skills related to seed saving and understand optimal timing and methods for harvesting seed
  • Dry and store harvested seeds and understand seed longevity
  • Utilize seeding techniques to ensure best results when working with your saved seed

Lesson plan


Section I | Welcome

1. Introduction

2. Course outline

Section II | Plant walk

3. Plantain (Plantago lanceolate)

4. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

5. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

6. Burdock (Arctium lappa)

7. Clover (Trifolium pratense)

8. Cedar (Thuja plicata)

9. Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

10. Wild Rose (Rose nutkana)

11. Cleavers (Galium aparine)

12. Ground Ivy (Hendera helix)

13. Nettles (Urtica dioica)

14. Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa1)

15. Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera)

More medicinals you may find

16. Arnica (Arnica montana)

17. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

18. Chickweed (Stellaria media)

19. Elder, black (Sambucus nigra)

20. Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)

21. Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)

22. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Section III | Conclusion

23. Harvesting

24. Plant identification

25. Environmental considerations

26. Harvesting, drying, and processing

27. Record keeping

28. Final words


Section I | Welcome

1. Introduction

2. Course Outline

Section II | Seed saving

3. Introduction to Seed Saving

Section III | Plant reproduction – how seeds are made

4.  Plant reproduction – flowers

5. Seeds & fruit

6. Plant life cycles

7. Pollination

8. Plant reproduction review

Section IV | Doing it yourself – collecting seeds

9. How-to introduction

10. Seed shape & timing

11. Plant selection & harvesting methods

12. Drying, shelling, & storing seeds

13. Labeling & seed longevity

Section V | Seeding techniques

14. Seeding techniques

Section VI | Conclusion

15. Final course review

Lesson preview

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