About Dara Saville

Author, Herbalist, Geographer, Conservationist

My Story

Dara Saville is an herbalist, geographer, writer, mother, and native plant advocate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Growing up and spending her early adulthood in largely nature-deficient environments, the discovery of the natural world in her early 20s was a life-changing development. Backpacking the mountains, canyons, and deserts of the American West revealed a new reality in which landscapes, plants, rivers, and animals could be revitalizing forces in one’s life. This became the subject of most of Dara’s work and writing ever since.

Dara writes essays for her long-standing column ‘Of Wilderness and Gardens’ in Plant Healer Quarterly, covering a variety of botanical topics including environmental issues relating to medicinal plants.  She is also a primary contributor to the Albuquerque Herbalism blog. Additionally, her articles have also appeared in professional journals such as The Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation and The Journal of the American Herbalists Guild. Dara’s first book published by University of New Mexico Press, The Ecology of Herbal Medicine, is an in-depth look at medicinal plants as seen through the lens of landscapes and the living ecological systems we all inhabit.

Dara is the founder and primary instructor of Albuquerque Herbalism, a bioregional herbal studies program, and the Executive Director of the Yerba Mansa Project, a non-profit organization focused on native medicinal plant restoration. She has an MS in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of New Mexico and is also a graduate of Tieraona Low Dog’s Foundations of Herbal Medicine program.

Photo Credit: Jessi T. Walsh

My Book

The Ecology of Herbal Medicine

A Guide to Plants and Living Landscapes of the American Southwest

The Ecology of Herbal Medicine introduces botanical medicine through an in-depth exploration of the land, presenting a unique guide to plants found across the American Southwest. An accomplished herbalist and geographer, Dara Saville offers readers an ecological manual for developing relationships with the land and plants in a new theoretical approach to using herbal medicines.

Career Highlights

Besides being an interdisciplinary author, Dara is a skilled photographer whose images are featured in her latest book. Dara also founded Albuquerque Herbalism, where she and other instructors teach both in-person & online herbal courses. And she does conservation advocacy work at the Yerba Mansa Project, where she leads a community-driven effort to restore native medicinal plants and their habitat. She is also a contributing author to 8 herbal compendium books, an instructor in the University of New Mexico’s Holistic Health Program, and a UNM Distinguished Alumni.

Published Book

Enrolled Students

Blog Posts

Quarterly Column

Featured In

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In Ecological Herbalism, Dara Saville argues for attending to the health of the ecosystem because it is irrefutably linked to the health of the patient and the healer, for the respectful harvesting of medicinal plants. Hers is a potent plea in this time of rapid ecological change. Saville is a mentor with an academic mind and sap stained hands: do as I say/do as I do. This is a detailed and richly referenced discussion of plant properties, concise and comprehensive given the wealth of the material covered. It will be an often consulted volume on my bookshelf!

– Judith Phillips, author of Growing the Southwest Garden

Meet Dara

June 10-13, 2021, Online

International Herb Symposium

2 Sessions: Organizing & Implementing Native Medicinal Plant Restoration on Public Lands + Yerba Mansa

June 26, 2021, Online

Bachechi Open Space

An Exploration Into Ecological Herbalism

For the full list of author events: