Ethnobotany Certificate Program

The Ethnobotany Certificate Program is the first such program in this state and only one of a handful that are currently being offered in the entire United States. Ethnobotany is integral to life in Alaska because it recognizes cultural knowledge and deepens our connection with the expansive and exceptional natural world at our doorstep.

Students enrolled in the EBOT program will learn: basic plant biology & floral ecology of Alaska, economic applications of Ethnobotany, basic applied chemistry of plants, research methods for local specific projects, as well as traditional and new uses of Alaska native plants. These skills will prepare Alaska Native students for employment in wildlife and cultural management agencies, education, and other rural-based jobs, as well as further college milestones such as the Associates and Bachelor’s of
Science degrees.

Ethnobotany News!

Birch trees tapped for sap, research at UAF
Films connect Alaska’s wild plants with traditional uses - description of the film series
Ties to Alaska's Wild Plants - Ethnobotany Film Series

Dreaming about summer? It's time to apply for EBOT 100, Introduction to Ethnobotany!

Registration for the 2016 EBOT 100 summer course is currently closed to all but local (Bethel region students). We are still accepting applications for our waitlist, until 15 May 2016, and encourage students from the Bethel region to apply now to reserve your spot in the roster of this popular course.


Join students from all over Alaska to learn about Ethnobotany: the uses of plants as food, medicine, and in art.

  • Take daily field trips out to the tundra to learn the names of our local plants
  • Learn from Elders about uses of plants for food and medicine
  • Collect, prepare, and eat native wild plant foods & learn how to make fireweed jam
  • Create your own grass basket to take home
  • Make medicinal plant salves, soap, and natural plant dyes
  • Scholarships are available to students enrolled in the certificate program to cover tuition, transportation to and from Bethel, lodging in Sackett hall, food, and course books and materials.

For More Information:, 907-474-6935, in Fairbanks, AK.

Read the flyer

EBOT 100 Introduction to Ethnobotany flyer

Fill out and mail a paper application

Send the paper application to:

  • Mail: KuC Summer Ethnobotany 2016, Attn: Rose Meier, PO Box 750140, Fairbanks AK 99775-0140
  • Fax: 907-474-5139
  • Email:

Fill out and send an online application

  • Note that for the online application, you will need to add a link to your personal statement. You can use Google docs or Dropbox (yes, you can link to the Dropbox file), or something similar. If you need help or have questions, please email

New Website for Medicinal Flora of Alaska Natives

Medicinal Flora of Alaska Natives by Ann Garibaldi is a required text for some Ethnobotany courses. The program has recently changed structure and we have a new website and therefore the previous link to the flora will no longer work. The new website address is:

Ethnobotanical Plant of the Month

This summer, University of Alaska Herbarium interns created an Ethnobotanical Plant of the Month for the herbarium display case. The herbarium website will be updated monthly to reflect the rotating display that is on the UAA campus. The website is here:
Thanks to Justin Fulkerson, University of Alaska Herbarium, for this information.


Kevin Curran is a biology professor at USD in San Diego, teaching Cell Biology and an Ethnobotany course. He has recently put together a new ethnobotany website. On this site, he delves into the cultural history and health benefits of various medicinal plants. He also provides a mini-review of the latest clinical results for the science behind the health claims of these plants.

Be sure to scroll through the page to see some exciting information about medicinal plants!

Kayla Scheibl, Ethnobotany exchange student in Hawaii

Kayla is an exchange student at Kauai Community College, in Lihue, HI.

Here's a longer article about Kayla's Kapa-Making Experience

a piece of Kapa fabric

Kayla Scheibl's experience in Hawaii, with Kapa making, traditional Hawaiian bark cloth. Kayla attended a four day workshop to create her own piece of kapa.

Kayla Scheibl in Hawaii I am grateful to have begun my studies on the island of Kaua'i with the wonderfully complex natural history of Hawai'i. Learning about some of the basics of the geologic history, topography, and climate has helped orient myself within these beautiful islands. Now I am focused on learning more about how the people and plants came to the islands and how they have adapted to their new environments. The class field days have been especially helpful in exemplifying everything I have learned, including the dramatic and sometimes concerning changes humans and introduced species have had on the islands over time.

I have also had the opportunity to listen to kumus (teachers) and other cultural practitioners about the current and historical uses of local plants. Being given the opportunity to participate in service learning, such as gathering and processing lauhala (Pandanus tectoris) for a fundraising project to fund Hawaiian culture education, has been especially rewarding. I have helped plant endemic and endangered plants on campus. To aid my overall understanding of everything I have learned, I have utilized the following wonderful books: Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith, Hawaiian Heritage Plants by Angela Kepler, and Kaua'i: Ancient Place Names and Their Stories by Fredrick Wichman.


lauhala prepped for weaving - a plant they use to make cordage and weave into baskets, mats, etc.

Draft Yukon-Kuskokwim plant guide:

Check out our new guide to traditional uses of plants for food, medicine and other purposes in our region. We thank the 31 elders from 13 local villages who shared their knowledge and everyone who helped put together this book. This book is still a draft and we are putting it up as web-based document only for a year. We are asking for comments from the public about how we can improve this book.

If there is anything we need to correct or anything you think we should add please email editor Kevin Jernigan at

A Guide to the Ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region (PDF)

Certificate in Ethnobotany (PDF)

EBOT program brochure (PDF) The brochure describes the Ethnobotany program and how to enroll in the program.

 Ethnobotany 100 Field Course Pre-class Botany Module

The class EBOT 100, “Introduction to Ethnobotany,” will discuss the relationships between people and plants in the Sitka region as well as other parts of Alaska and the rest of the world. People relate to plants in many ways, for example, by eating them, using them as medicine, naming them and telling stories about them. To give you an idea of the types of things we'll discuss, we have included a few sample pages from our ethnobotany program's upcoming book on the ethnobotany of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, in Western Alaska. This will give you a feeling for how people of a different region relate to a few species you may also have in your area. Please read the descriptions below of fireweed, Labrador tea and cloud berry. Then you can take a short quiz to see what you learned, and what you already know about plants and the study of how people use them.

Anyone interested in the program is welcome to take the quiz too!

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