Herbalist to lead medical plant hike | SteamboatToday.com

Herbalist to lead medical plant hike

What: Mary O'Brien's "Native Medicinal and Herbal Plant Walk"When: 9 a.m. SaturdayWhere: Meet at Yampatika, 925 Weiss Drive.Cost: $25 a person.Call: 879-9151 to reserve a spot.Other: Take a lunch -- the tour will last until about 1 p.m.

— With its harsh winters and dry summers, Steamboat Springs is a lip balm kind of town. People who sign up for Mary O’Brien’s medicinal and edible plant walk Saturday will learn how to make their own soothing salve from native plants.

O’Brien is a chartered herbalist who leads tours for Yampatika, “the Yampa Valley’s natural and cultural connection.”

She will meet interested people at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of Yampatika headquarters at the offices of the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest. The officers are on Weiss Drive just off U.S. Highway 40 next to the Southside Station Shell gas station. From there, the group will travel to the Buffalo Pass area, where O’Brien will discuss the best time to harvest beneficial plants as well as the ethics of doing so.

This is the time of year to look for native berries — thimbleberries, serviceberries and raspberries, O’Brien said. She will point them out along the way.

The plants used to make natural lip balm already have passed peak harvest season, but O’Brien will point them out so her audience can recognize them for future hikes. And before the event is over, she’ll help the group make a salve from the oils of plants she collected earlier in the summer. They include self heal (prunella vulgaris) and plantain (plantago major), a member of the mint family.

She’ll also point out rudbeckia, a plant whose roots can be harvested in the fall to derive many of the benefits attributed to echinacea.

O’Brien studied at Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby, British Columbia.

To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com.

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