Ethnobotany Certificate Program

The Ethnobotany 32-credit Certificate and Minor 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. The EBOT program experience also includes field trips with Elders and plant experts, independent student-led projects, and student exchange opportunities with Hawaiian colleges and universities.  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.  

Contact Rose Meier (800) 478-5822

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

Apply now to reserve your spot in 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
  • Scholarships are available to students enrolled in the certificate program to cover tuition, transportation to and from Hooper Bay, lodging, food, and course books and materials.

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

Read the flyer

EBOT flyer thumbnail

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 applicationNote 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

Introduction to Ethnomycology

EBOT F393/ANTH F393, Spring 2017, 3 Credits Tuesday and Thursday 7-8:30 pm Bunnell 313, Classroom and Distance Delivery

An introductory overview of ethnomycology, the course aims to provide students with greater awareness and appreciation of the ways in which the study of the human relationships with fungi can shed light on broader cultural processes and socialecological interactions. Scholarly investigation of human beliefs and practices surrounding mushrooms and other fungi is known as a study in ethnomycology. Ethnomycology is a social science that integrates perspectives of many different types of researchers, including anthropologists, cultural geographers, sociologists, art historians, linguists, psychologists, and political scientists. It also reaches into areas of life sciences and physical sciences, humanities, and fine arts, as a number of practitioners in these fields have explored connections between people and fungi. This course examines the works of key contributors to ethnomycology – the contributors whose ideas have played an important role in establishing and developing the field. The lecture and reading materials discuss the roles of fungi in food, medicine, art, commerce, recreation, spiritual life, and various utilitarian applications. The course features examples of human-fungi interactions from societies around the world, including Alaska and other high latitude regions.


Applied Ethnobotany Spring EBOT F293

Course Description:

This is the spring section of a year-round course cycle, consisting of two non-sequential applied courses (Fall and Spring) that explore the seasonally-appropriate cultural uses of plants in a native and non-native, mainly Alaskan, context. Emphasis will be placed on the underlying scientific aspects of harvesting and using plants. Students will deepen their understanding of human-plant relationships which will guide them into further studies in ethnobotany and related disciplines.

The vegetation in Alaska is strongly seasonal and so are the activities related to plants harvested from the wild. The activities as well as the context-embedded lectures of the course will be guided by plants available during the second half of the annual vegetation cycle. This includes harvesting, processing and preserving of plants for use during the nongrowing season. The course will provide a space for hands-on exploration of biological, ecological, chemical, and anthropological concepts through the lens of ethnobotany. The cultural aspects of the plant uses addressed will be complemented by their underlying scientific (e.g. ecological, biochemical) principles. The course builds on guided individual projects by the students or a team of students, fostering independent working and creative problem solving as well as discussing results within a group of peers and finally presenting in class or to a wider audience.

Course Goals:

Students will begin to learn and understand how plants and plant extracts can be and have been used in Alaska by doing hands-on projects. Through this process, students will learn how to harvest and process Alaskan plants and will become aware of the strong seasonality of plants in Alaska. At the same time, the student will develop the skills to harvest and process a selection of plants in spring growth stages.

Applied Ethnobotany Spring EBOT F293 (syllabus - PDF)

4-H and Ethnobotany

Pressed plant prettiesTwig StarEthnobotanist self portrait

Edie Barbour is preparing a number of after school activity modules for 4-H youth, with an ethnobotany theme. There are twelve different modules that run the gamut from making a plant press and keeping a plant journal to using twigs and pressed flowers in art projects. Suggestions are included for expanding upon or making changes to the individual modules to suit the youth in the program. There are also links to more information.

Reuniting Little Diomede and Big Diomede

The research being conducted by EBOT Adjunct faculty, Dr. Kevin Jernigan, is included in this article about reuniting the communities of Little Diomede and Big Diomede - formerly separated by political boundaries.

Mission to Chukotka 

2017 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference

Want to attend the 2017 Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference in Unalaska AK (meeting dates in March to be determined).

The office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA) is accepting applications from undergraduate students for Fall Travel Awards of up to $2,000. Travel funds support presenting research or creative activity outcomes at a public or professional meeting or attending a conference or workshop to further the student’s research.

The deadline to apply is September 26, 2016. The application and additional information is available on the URSA website at

For more information, please contact the URSA office, 301 Bunnell or 450-8772.

Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska

February 2013
This brochure presents an introduction to mushrooms and illustrates a number of the more common and interesting of our local species to help Alaskans and visitors to better understand and enjoy our magnificent national forests. Unlike most plants, birds, and mammals, very few mushrooms have common names. Thus, while we have used common names where they exist, many of the species in this brochure can be referred to only by their scientific names. But, never fear. If you can talk with your kids about Tyrannosaurus rex, you can handle mushroom names.

Image of mushroom
If the link doesn't take you there automatically, go to: (downloads pdf directly)
or (page where this and other publications can be downloaded)

Wild and Cultivated Berries of Alaska

SNRE Emeritus Professor Pat Holloway will teach a one-credit class this fall called Wild and Cultivated Berries of Alaska. The online six-week class beginsSept. 12 and is an introduction to Alaska wild berries and cultivated fruit crops. Topics in NRM F154 include how to improve wild berry yields, hardy berries, commercial production, diseases, pests, and traditional and modern uses of berries, including strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries, currants, cloudberries and more. For more information, contact Holloway at or Cathy Donaldson at 474-7188.

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

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 HawaiiI 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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