Herbalist, botanist talk about foraging at The Bookworm of Edwards, April 13 | VailDaily.com

Herbalist, botanist talk about foraging at The Bookworm of Edwards, April 13

Daily staff report
“Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Southern Rockies,” by Mary O'Brien and Karen Vail.
Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Southern Rockies,” with Mary O’Brien and Karen Vail.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards.

Cost: $10; includes appetizers.

More information: Call 970-926-7323, or visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com.

EDWARDS — Residents of the Vail Valley have access to a plethora of edible and medicine plants right outside their doors — but few take advantage of their abundant environment.

Tonight, The Bookworm of Edwards will host a foraging discussion with two experts from Steamboat, Mary O’Brien and Karen Vail. The information will be valuable to longtime foragers or those new to the activity. The natural world experts published a book that was 10 years in the making, “Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Southern Rockies,” which allows anyone to become a forager at any level.

“Through our book and teaching schedule, we try and empower people to be more comfortable with the natural world. Once you start learning about your surroundings, you can become more empowered on how to use what you see,” said O’Brien, a career botanist.

The bountiful valley gives locals access to more than 130 native and non-native plants for edible and medicinal purposes. At the event, learn where to look, what to recognize, how to forage and the opportunities for a range of skill sets in the outdoors. You don’t have to be a botanist or herbalist to live off the land in new and creative ways.

“We want people who are new to foraging to start with plants they are familiar with and learn the alternatives the plant can offer. Take roses and raspberries — both families of plants have medicinal attributes,” O’Brien said.


The two authors have spent their lives interested in plants and working to educate others through classes and nature walks. The two women work as a team, with Vail identifying the plant and O’Brien recognizing the different uses for it.

“Edible plants are very accessible to people, but rather than taking new space to harvest, the challenge for people is learning how to integrate plants into natural landscapes,” Vail said. “This, in turn, will help lower individuals’ impact on their ecosystems while still growing your own edible and medicinal gardens.”

Their tips for harvesting, preparing, gardening and plant uses give readers and students available information to grow their own edible or medicinal gardens.

“We teach people how to embrace nature,” Vail said. “The biggest part is making time for fun and engaging experiences where you can learn from the plants.”

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