Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.

  • Faculty Instructor, Ecosystem Science and Management Department
  • Program Director, Appalachian Botany and Ethnobotany, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center
Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.
3400 Discovery Road
Petersburg, PA 16669
Work Phone: 814-865-3951

Areas of Expertise

  • Field Botany, Plant Taxonomy and Systematics, Herbarium Methods
  • Non-timber Forest Products (e.g., Maple Syrup, Medicinal/Culinary Plants and Fungi)
  • Economic Botany and Ethnobotany
  • Forest Biology, Ecology and Stewardship
  • Plant Husbandry and Horticulture
  • Wild Plant Conservation, Management, and Policy
  • Invasive Plant Ecology, Ethnobotany, and Management
  • Appalachian Forest Plant Biology, Ecology, and Ethnobotany
  • Agroforestry and Agroecology

Connect with Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.



  1. B.A., Economic Botany, Idaho State University (1999)
  2. M.S., Horticulture, Penn State University (2002)
  3. PhD., Forest Resources, Penn State University (2011)

About Me

I am a botanist and ethnobotanist, mostly focused on the Appalachian region of the United States.  However, beginning in 2019-2020, I will be involved in ethnobotanical research in Madagascar with colleagues in Anthropology. 

In addition to teaching for ESM, I have a research and outreach program that is focused on developing sustainable forest-based stewardship and cropping systems for Appalachian specialty forest products (i.e., non-timber forest products) including American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and ramps (Allium tricoccum). My students and I conduct  interdisciplinary research on these products on topics relating to botany, ethnobotany, ecology, phytochemistry, and horticulture.

Courses that I Teach at Penn State

Fall Semester

  • FOR 203 Field Dendrology (w/ Margot Kaye)

Spring Semester

  • FOR 303 Herbaceous Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Ethnobotany
  • FOR 403 Invasive Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Management 
  • FOR 418 Agroforestry: Science, Design and Practice (in even years)

Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Research Papers:

Burkhart, E.P., Zuiderveen, G.H., and Pugh, C.V. Neither wild nor cultivated: wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) trade surveys provide insights into husbandry of an internationally traded non-timber forest product. Manuscript in development for 2019 submission to Economic Botany.

Maynard-Bean, E.E., Kaye, M., Wagner, T., and Burkhart, E.P. Citizen scientists record novel leaf phenology of an emerging invasive functional group. Manuscript submitted to Nature Letters. May 2019.

Maynard-Bean, E.E., Kaye, M., and Burkhart, E.P. Shedding light on invasive shrubs in North American forests: novel leaf traits. Manuscript submitted to Plant Ecology. May 2019.

Zuiderveen, G.H., Burkhart, E.P., Lambert, J.D., and Jacobson, M.G. Influence of post-harvest drying temperatures on alkaloid levels in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.). Manuscript submitted to Journal of Applied Research on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. February 2019.

Burkhart, E.P. and Zuiderveen, G.H. 2019. Wild goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) root alkaloid content in relation to colony and harvest stage. Journal of Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants 25 (2): 128-140.

Burkhart, E.P. 2013. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) floristic associations in Pennsylvania:guidance for identifying calcium-rich forest farming sites.  Agroforestry Systems 87 (5): 1157-1172.

Burkhart, E.P., Jacobson, M.G. and Finley, J. 2012. Stakeholder perspective and experience with wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) conservation efforts in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.:limitations to a CITES driven, top-down regulatory approach. Biodiversity and Conservation 21 (14): 3657-3679.

Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G. 2009. Transitioning from wild collection to forest cultivation of indigenous medicinal forest plants in eastern North America is constrained by lack of profitability. Agroforestry Systems 76 (2): 437-453.

Extension related:

Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G.  2017. Opportunities from American ginseng husbandry in Pennsylvania (revised and expanded). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 16 p.

Burkhart, E.P.  and Jacobson, M.G. 2006. Non-timber forest products from Pennsylvania.  Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 16 p.

Burkhart, E.P.  and Jacobson, M.G. 2004. Non-timber forest products from Pennsylvania.  American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 12 p.