Feb 212009

Michael Roland Shaw Moore
January 9, 1941 – February 20, 2009

Herbalist, Wildcrafter, Writer, Musician, Composer, Teacher & Much More

The first real herb book I ever read was the original edition of Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. It opened up my eyes to a whole new way of approaching healing and the plants. While I knew some basic herbal skills at the time, I was in awe of Michael’s confidant understanding of physiology and deep respect for the natural world. Over the years I’ve read every single book him so many times I have large passages memorized from each of them, and I’ve spent countless hours listening to his herb conference lectures on CD repeatedly. More recently, I’ve been a student of his Clinical and Constitutional Herbalism course at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.

I can’t imagine my practice without Michael’s enormous contribution. Every single day, I utilize understandings and information gleaned from him. Each time I assess a new client, create a formula, wildcraft or write an herbal blogpost I draw on some bit of what I’ve learned from him. My knowledge of energetics and constitutions has been heavily influenced by his exploration in this area, and his down to earth, easily understood ways of explaining the nuts and bolts of all things herbal have certainly effected my own teaching and writing in a big way. I have deeply appreciated his generosity in freely sharing old herbal texts, electronic verstions of his many manuels, hundreds and hundreds of plant photographs and illustrations, and these resources have greatly furthered my education and learning process.

It’s very important for those new to herbalism to understand that much of the knowledge that many American herbalists take for granted as obvious and widespread comes directly from Michael’s work. We’ve all benefitted from his books, teaching, extensive research and scholarship, as well his incredible lineage of students, many of whom now have their own schools. Whether or not you’ve ever read one of his remarkable herbals, you’ve certainly been influenced by his knowledge and perspective. I feel that every aspiring or practicing herbalist should read the introduction to Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, and pay close attention to his thoughtful, compassionate treatise on Green Herbalism.

In fact, I strongly recommend that all herbalists or plant people read Michael’s books. He has sometimes been pigeonholed as Southwestern herbal author, but really, his books apply to anyone in North American, and likely well beyond. His books include a wide variety of herbs from Lemon Balm to Angelica to Pennyroyal to Salal and the underlying principles and understandings that inform his work apply to all of us. Besides, some of his medicine making techniques are genius and will save you lots of time and frustration. His sense of humor is absolutely priceless, and immortalized in his writings, recordings and videos. I am so appreciative of the time he took to record so much of his work, dedicating many hours even while he was ill to editing video footage and putting together course material.

I was incredibly sad then, to hear of his death yesterday, even though I’m very happy that he’ll no longer be experiencing chronic pain and problems. My sadness is mostly for myself and for the rest of the world, that has benefitted so deeply from him. In some ways it feels like the end of an era, even as we attempt to continue in his formidable footsteps.

What I want most to say is that I am enormously grateful for the work he dedicated his life to and for the great healing and teaching he gave to so many. Thanks, Michael…


Here’s a gallery of plant photography that Paul Bergner put up in honor of Michael, enjoy.


To help support Donna Chesner – Michael’s wife and the skilled administrator of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine- please contact her to ask what’s needed or send donations to

Donna Chesner
620 West Limberlost, #24,
Tucson, Arizona, 85705

  14 Responses to “In Honor of Michael Moore – With Gratitude”

  1. I too have spent many hours and days reading Michael’s teachings and am sad to hear this news. The herbal world is a much richer place because of Michael work.

  2. Thanks for posting this. He means much to me for his insightful and medicine sharing work.

  3. How this this wonderful man die there is no mention of it?

    Thank you.

  4. Tammatha, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. There has been much mention of it in the herbal community, there’s multiple blog and facebook posts, as well as notifications on the herbal groups and lists, and on SWSBM’s website. I’m not sure if there will be any larger amount of media attention but if so, it would likely take longer to hit the press.

  5. I talked to Michael over the phone when my mom was at the end of a long battle and dying of breast cancer and his recommendations not only kept her alive longer, but she was more comfortable as a result of the supplements he suggested. His kindness and generousity were overwhelming and I will never forget what he did for my mom. I didn’t get to meet him physically but his memory lives on inside all of us that he affected so positively and profoundly.

  6. Keziah, thanks for sharing your experience with Michael…. he was definitely a kind and generous healer.

  7. From the land of the other Michael Moore (Michigan), thanks for being an Herbal Warrior and a warrior for freedom of expression on “being yourself.” May all your students carry your herbal messages through the pharaceutical fog to heal our nation.

  8. Michael, thank you. I never told you thank you enough for being western herbalism’s left brain with great humor. Do you know what we used to say about you in herb school? “Tough on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside”. You sweet, funny, brilliant, crazy anachronism. Thank you for being the Ed Abbey of herbal medicine; I hope you two are enjoying each other’s company. You insipired me and have left mountains of wisdom for all of us to follow as best we can. Many blessings on your next journey.

    Love, Sunny

  9. Farewell, Michael, and bon voyage. I first met Michael in Boulder at American Herbalists Guild, having read and appreciated his books and the occasional correspondence with us at the Herb Research Foundation. His contributions to the community of herbal enthusiasts is beyond measure, and his inimitable style will be sorely missed.

  10. Dear Kiva Rose,

    Thank you for letting us know about Michael-I love his writings.



  11. Blessings to Micheal on the next journey. No doubt there will be things on that trail only he will notice. Thank you Michael, for in teaching me you helped me realize my true identity and destiny. I will always be grateful.
    Please note; A Celebration and Fundraiser to Honor Michael Moore and American Herbalism April 17-19 2009 Truth or Consequences NM
    the link is http://www.mooreandmore2009.com

  12. […] Hello everyone, and love from the Canyon!  We all caught a cold on top of juniper allergy tickles, so we are a little behind on getting letters and lessons out.  It’s been crazy warm the past week (see Wolf’s piece on Gila climate below), and I’ve been getting the river every day already!  I’ve been continuing to organize the kitchen as our friend Danny adds more shelves and counters, as well as tending a growing stream of guests.  Kiva has been doing tons of work with students thanks to Renee’ assuming outreach, and Wolf just finished final changes to the I’m a Medicine Woman, Too! book for Thomas Elpel of Hops Press the very kind publisher who plans to have it printed and available in hardcover sometime in March.  On the related subject of Medicinal Plants and their champions, we honor this week the preeminent Southwestern herbalist Michael Moore, who passed away while continuing to work on developing his herb courses and materia medica.  Wolf knew Michael in Santa Fe a couple of decades ago when they would go to the same eco-events, and Michael’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West book was the first book Wolf gave to Kiva when she first launched her serious herbal studies. You can read Kiva’s touching portrayal of this much missed man at: http://bearmedicineherbals.com/?p=594 […]

  13. I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of a loved one. My heart truly goes out to all of you who knew & loved him.

    <3 Hannah

  14. That was a wonderful tribute Kiva! I cannot fully express my gratitude for Michael Moore in words. I can’t even imagine what type of herbalist I would be without his influence.
    I still have my original used ‘library’ copy of his book medicinal plants of the mountain west. It was my first herbal, I picked it up from a second hand sale years ago – I was forever hooked. The very first time I went on the internet, his name was the first I put in the search box – I then began printing off pages and pages of info off his website. I only spoke to him one time and was always going to meet him ‘someday’. That is a big regret of mine that I didn’t get to meet him in person.
    Thank you Michael Moore- you will be missed, and your contribution to the world of herbs will never be forgotten.

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