This Davie botanist provides plant alternatives to traditional medicine

The botanist and herbalist of Davie, Ricky Lopez, also known as “Ricky Tree,” is the mastermind behind the state-of-the-art herbal apothecary and organic farm – Botanica Organica

Throughout his life, he realized the power of plants and decided to dedicate himself to cultivate the highest quality herbal remedies. 

Ricky Tree, 31, grew up on a farm in Homestead. That environment ripened his love and keen connection to the flora of Mother Nature. 

“I had a childhood exposure to nature and running outside and doing the whole digging the hole and picking worms out of the ground and breaking my arm collecting chicken eggs climbing the chicken coop and kind of like this outdoorsy personality that opened the door for me to be able to resonate with herbs as I grew in my life,” Tree said. “If I didn’t grow up on that farm I wouldn’t have been exposed to those animals and the outdoors and I wouldn’t have resonated as much with the serenity that is nature.”

Throughout his life, Tree has embraced an active lifestyle. He involved himself with yoga, mixed martial arts, and wrestling. 

“I was an athlete my whole life and later when I was 20 I hurt myself wrestling and I needed an orthoscopic surgery in my hip…they had to shave my labrum,” said Tree. When Rick

He had to lay in bed for weeks, and during that period, he dove into holistic healing studies. “I probably watched every TedTalk there was to watch at that time about healing the mind, yoga, and natural healing.” 

“I discovered herbalism on my journey through natural healing and natural wellness,” Tree said. 

In 2010, a friend introduced him to Miguel A. Cisneros-Abreu, creator of Aromatherapy Complementary Alternative Medicine (A-CAM). Tree connected with Cisneros and learned the therapeutic properties of plant medicines for various health ailments, offering an alternative to the side-effect risks of synthetic medicine. 

“He gave me a bottle of ylang-ylang, and I smelled it and felt what it did in my body, and since then, I’ve just been trying to figure out what it was that I felt that day,” Tree said. 

Cisneros, 75, studied herbal medicine for about 40 years. His research, education and practice began in the late 1980s, motivated by the therapeutic properties of plant medicines. 

Cisneros opened the American Apothecary of Kendall in Miami, which has operated for over 16 years. About 15 years ago, Tree visited the apothecary, which inspired much of his career. 

“He came in and he was just mesmerized about the whole thing,” Cisneros said. 

Cisneros invited Tree to take his course called A-CAM. “I call it ACAM mostly because in the early 90s, the American Medical Association decided to call those practices working in healthcare not licensed nor proven by science as CAM or Complementary Alternative Medicine,” Cisneros said. 

Around the time of Tree’s encounter with Cisneros, Tree began studying gardening and farming. He took the Florida Master Gardener Program, which is led by UF/IFAS Extension-certified volunteers trained to provide research-based horticultural education to Florida residents. He learned how to garden, farm, and identify plant species.

In 2013, Tree traveled to Canada (where – it’s a BIG country), where he connected with indigenous tribes of the region. 

“I got exposed to real practical wildcrafting and plant identification in forests and camping and being deep in nature really gave me a fortified trust in nature,” he said.  “When I was up there I told people I just wanted to connect people that cared about nature as much as I did.” 

He spent six months hitchhiking in Canada coast to coast, and that is when he sat in Native American circles learning about their sacred plant teachers and traditions.

After returning to Florida in 2014, he took a yoga teacher training course. He also took a permaculture design course and studied herbalism through the Florida School of Holistic Living

While studying herbalism, he also got involved in programs with the Evolutionary School of Herbal Medicine and the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine

“So I’ve done full programs with four different schools ranging in perspectives…Miguel was very surface level perspective with herbs and then the Florida School of Holistic Living was about the interpersonal connection between plants and then the Evolutionary School of Herbal Medicine was more on the esoteric side and the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine was very science based,” he said. 

In 2015, Tree visited Guatemala. He connected with the indigenous cultures and learned about herbal energetics – how different herbs affect the mind and body, such as herbs that cool compared to herbs that warm the body. After this experience, he returned to study at the  Florida School of Holistic Living, the Evolutionary School of Herbal Medicine, and the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine.

Near the end of 2017, Tree founded Botanica Organica, which started as a small business inside his home in Hollywood. He created herbal remedies from home-grown herbs and began selling his herbal products at the Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood.

In 2018, Tree got the opportunity through an edible plant nursery called Tree Amigos Growers to farm on the land, where Botanica soon found its new home. 

The outside deck of Botanica’s apothecary and herbal labs built by Ricky with the help of other individuals. 

In November 2020, Botanica evolved and moved into a large center located at 10900 SW 48th St in Davie. The space that is now Botanica used to be a small collection of office trailers, which is now a fully built wooden center for herbalism. Botanica is now an apothecary, farm, and center for herbal education. 

A variety of intentional herbal tea blends for different health issues and ailments that are hand-packed and sold in the apothecary at Botanica Organica. 

In Davie,  Tree grows herbs and provides high-quality herbs that grow in different regions to keep the diversity in the herbal apothecary and to support farmers everywhere. His specialty is in creating different loose-leaf tea blends and herbal tinctures. The tinctures are concentrated and highly potent liquid forms of an herb that is easy to make and take. Tinctures preserve and concentrate the properties of the herb, making them more effective and longer lasting. 

Herbal tinctures hand-crafted by Ricky Tree bottled in eye-dropper vials for proper dosage and intake.

Ricky Tree is available at his shop by appointment Tuesday to Friday and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The herbal products are available at his apothecary and on Botanica’s website. He can ship dry herbs and stable extracts like tinctures, salves, and essential oils. Tree aims to eventually provide herbal remedies across health food stores and expand outwards into additional locations. 

Matthew Wetcher is a photographer and videographer, which began as an artistic fascination at an early age. Matthew ventured into digital journalism at Florida International University and is now fusing his passion for content creation with the art of storytelling. Matthew is also admired for his love of philosophy, music, and conscious living.